Monthly Archives: February 2016

Tolstoy and the Forerunners of Twitter

Before there were people sending tweets about the important developments of the day, there was witty repartee in European salons. We get a taste of such banter from Tolstoy’s “War and Peace.

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Panicked by Trump? Turn to Lit

As Trump panic starts to set in, pundits are turning to literature to get an understanding of how it has all happened. This past week saw references to “Oedipus,” “Frankenstein,” “War and Peace,” and “Slaughterhouse Five.”

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The Joads & Steinbeck’s Lenten Message

“The Grapes of Wrath” has a Lenten message with the Joad family lost in the wilderness, led by the Moses/Jesus figure Jim Casy. After Casy is killed, Tom Joad becomes the apostle who takes his vision of a transcendent humankind to the wider world.

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Lewis Carroll Describes the Caucus Races

The Nevada and Iowa Caucuses were chaotic affairs. Caucus races are no less chaotic in “Alice in Wonderland” and it is just as difficult to declare a winner.

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Raymond Carver & Trump’s Enablers

Raymond Carver’s chilling story “Why, Honey?” captures the dread inspired by the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency. It also captures the enabling behavior that led to Trump’s rise in the first place.

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History’s Zigzagging Narratives

This Stephen Dunn points out how we see history as a series of narratives. Sometimes our heroes are those “too unhappy to be reasonable.”

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Clifton, Ellison Help Explain Whitesplaining

White politicians, if they want the Black vote, must be cautious about “whitesplaining.” Lucille Clifton gives us insight into the insensitivity in “note to self.” Brother Jack in “Invisible Man” is racially insensitive in this way and may have lessons for certain Bernie Sanders supporters.

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Prospero and the Presidential Primaries

Think of Shakespeare’s “Tempest” as an allegory for the current state of American politics, especially the presidential primaries. It contains visionaries and cynics, orchestrators and disrupters. If Prospero is the island “establishment,” then he enjoys some success but it is qualified.

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Pullman vs. C. S. Lewis on the Issue of Sin

Philip Pullman loathes C. S. Lewis, despite the many similarities between “The Golden Compass” and the Narnia Chronicles. The reason may be the way handles sinning children.

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