Monthly Archives: November 2011

Read Blake, Stand Up to Your Boss

Businessman David Whyte turns to poetry to hold on to his soul in the corporate world.

Posted in Blake (William), Rilke (Rainer Maria) | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Fired by Happy Valley, JoPa Is No Aeneas

Just as Rasselas questions Samuel Johnson’s Happy Valley, so do Penn State students find themselves questioning their own Happy Valley after the child abuse scandal. Coach Joe Paterno admired Aeneas, and many feel abandoned like Queen Dido.

Posted in Virgil | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Crowd Intoxication and the Call of the Gods

Athena visiting Odysseus at a critical point in battle represents the sort of intuitive decisions that we associate with great athletes and geniuses.

Posted in Homer | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

The Intrusion of an Overwhelming Joy

Advent is a time for waiting and listening for a message from God. Jarman describes having once experienced it and feeling driven to find it again.

Posted in Jarman (Mark) | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Democrats Refuse a Deal You Can’t Refuse

The Congressional Supercommittee failed to arrive at a plan to lower the deficit because the Republicans approached negotiations offering (like Michael Corleone) “not even the fee for the gaming license, which they’d appreciate if Democrats would put up personally.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

The Most Delicious Feast Ever Served

For a description of a luscious Thanksgiving feast, turn to the luncheon that Eve prepares for Archangel Raphael in Book V of “Paradise Lost.”

Posted in Milton (John) | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Bartleby, A Story of (Occupy) Wall Street

Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener” has been adopted by a number of the Occupy Wall Street protesters but, according to one commentator, the story works as an ironic commentary on the movement.

Posted in Melville (Herman) | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

A Poetic Skylark & an Introspective Snake

Two Scott Bates animal fables cast a skeptical eye on idealists seeking a transcendent truth.

Posted in Bates (Scott) | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Among Reread Authors, Jane Austen Is #1

Readers often reread Jane Austen to reassure themselves that order can be found in a chaotic world.

Posted in Austen (Jane) | Tagged , | 1 Comment


  • Literature is as vital to our lives as food and shelter. Stories and poems help us work through the challenges we face, from everyday irritations to loneliness, heartache, and death. Literature is meant to mix it up with life. This website explores how it does so.

    Please feel free to e-mail me [rrbates (at) smcm (dot) edu]. I would be honored to hear your thoughts and questions about literature.

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