Monthly Archives: February 2019

Mrs. Dalloway and the Gift of Aging

Friday My wife Julia alerted me to a luminescent Atlantic article about women disappearing as they grow older. Although some regard this as a problem, author Akiko Busch draws on Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway to show how women can turn it to their advantage. First, the apparent problem. When women are treated as objects, they […]

Posted in Le Guin (Ursula K), Woolf (Virginia) | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

John Wilmot Sums Up Current GOP

Thursday One of the interchanges in Trump fixer Michael Cohen’s testimony before the House Investigation Committee yesterday jumped out at me because it had such an 18th century flavor to it. Kentucky Republican James Comer, seeking to undermine Cohen, challenged him with the following: Comer: “You called Trump a cheat. What would you call yourself?” […]

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Chaucer’s Friar and Abusive Clergy

Wednesday Like many, I had hopes that Pope Francis’s Vatican meeting on clergy sexual abuse would yield something substantial, and like many I have been disappointed. The pope, according to the New York Times, decided that the best way for the church to address the problem lay not in issuing an edict from Rome but […]

Posted in Chaucer (Geoffrey), Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Brexit or Never Let Me Go?

Tuesday I see there is a glimmer of hope in the United Kingdom (albeit a very tiny one) as Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has dropped his opposition to a second referendum on Brexit, even though he himself supposedly wants out. This means that a possibility at least exists that Brits can reverse their catastrophic, […]

Posted in Ishiguro (Kazuo) | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Caution against Purity Policing

Monday One of my conservative readers wrote me recently asking me how I felt about leftist insistence that Virginia governor Ralph Northam resign for having posted a racist picture in his medical school yearbook years ago. After all, hasn’t Northam lived a fairly exemplary life since then? The reader also sent me a Quillette article […]

Posted in Behn (Aphra), Fielding (Henry), Shakespeare (William) | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

C. S. Lewis: Literature as Theology

Spiritual Sunday I write today about a fascinating talk I heard in our church’s Adult Forum this past Sunday. Dr. Rob MacSwain, editor of The Cambridge Companion to C. S. Lewis, talked about Lewis’s special contribution to our understanding of God and Christianity. MacSwain, who teaches “Theology of Ethics” at Sewanee’s School of Theology, opened […]

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Dickens Anagrams

Friday For a change of pace, I offer up some title anagrams, generated by one Ross Daniel Bullen, who tweeted them out recently in honor of Charles Dickens’s birthday. I got all but one but must admit to semi-cheating. I’m familiar with all of his novels (with the exception of Dombey and Son) so I plugged the novels […]

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Fantasy Keeps Dreams Alive

Thursday In Monday’s and Tuesday’s posts (see here and here), I laid out the outlines of my first “Wizards and Enchantresses” class, which I’m currently teaching as part of Sewanee’s Lifelong Learning Program. The first class I devoted to Merlin, the second will focus on Morgan Le Fay, the third will take up Shakespeare’s Prospero, […]

Posted in Tennyson (Alfred Lord), Tolkien (J. R. R.), Twain (Mark), White (T. H.) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Brief Flirtation with Lyndon LaRouche

Wednesday Here’s a story that most people missed but that registered with me: Lyndon LaRouche died last week at 97. I was never a “LaRouchie,” but for a few months as a graduate student I took his ideas seriously. That’s until I discovered he was a fanatic. I learned about LaRouche from a friend who […]

Posted in Aristotle, Plato | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a 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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