Monthly Archives: February 2021

“Clarissa” Taught the Age Empathy

A new book argues that epistolary novels, especially “Clarissa,” taught the 18th century empathy.

Posted in Defoe (Daniel), Richardson (Samuel), Smollett (Tobias) | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Get Thee Behind Me, Power and Wealth

In “Paradise Regained,” Jesus instructs Satan, as he instructs Peter in Matthew’s gospel, to get behind him.

Posted in Milton (John) | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

My White Queen Injury Experience

My recent axe injury resembled the “Alice through the Looking Glass” scene where the White Queen cuts herself with a brooch.

Posted in Carroll (Lewis) | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Cruz Is No Willie Stark or Richard III

Ted Cruz? More Willie Stark crossed with Chevy Chase or Richard III played by Mr. Bean?

Posted in James (E.L.), Shakespeare (William), Warren (Robert Penn) | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Looking Back at a Year of Covid

Wednesday Last July I collected all the essays I had written on Covid into a single post, with the first appearing almost exactly a year ago. This week, as we mark the once-inconceivable 500,000th official Covid death, I update that list. It has all been too tragic for words, but words are what we have. […]

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Hugo on a Nation Catching Its Breath

In “Les Miserables,” Hugo says France needed a period of quiet following the rambunctious Napoleonic years. Sounds familiar.

Posted in Hugo (Victor) | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Will Trump Pay? Literature Is Unsure

Will Trump escape all accountability? Literature weighs in.

Posted in Brecht (Bertolt), Dante, Fielding (Henry), Gay (John), Hardy (Thomas), Voltaire, Wilde (Oscar), Wilmot (John) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pondering Our Ashness, Hoping for Easter

Buggeman’s “Marked by Ashes” is a good poem to kick off the season of Lent.

Posted in Bruggeman (Walter) | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Texas GOP Tilts with Windmills

As the Texas power grid implodes in the fact of arctic weather, the GOP pulls a Quixote and blames… windmills.

Posted in Cervantes | 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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