Category Archives: Homer

Through Lit, We Learn Compassion

Tuesday My brother Sam, an enthusiastic Unitarian Universalist, gave me Karen Armstrong’s Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life for Christmas, and I was pleased that the author sees literature playing a major role. In today’s post I share how she draws on the ancient Greeks. Armstrong writes, “All faiths insist that compassion is the test […]

Also posted in Aeschylus, Euripides, Sophocles, Wordsworth (William) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Roots of a Beautiful Marriage

Spiritual Sunday Every time I visit Slovenia (six times now, the first two for year-long Fulbrights), I learn something new. In my most recent visit, I discovered it is common for couples to live together for years before getting married (if they ever do). While I can’t speak to overall statistics, I talked with several […]

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The GOP & Trump’s Siren Call

Tuesday The other day I detected one of Atlantic’s excellent columnists misusing a classical analogy. I flag Ed Kilgore, not to show off, but because the analogy is indeed enlightening if used correctly. See if you can find the mistake: This would suggest that the occasional efforts by individual Republican congressmen to show some distance from […]

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Returning to the Misty Past

John Gatta’s “Spirits of Place” is helping me understand why I have chosen to retire in my home town. Wordsworth, Stowe, Homer, and Frost help out as well.

Also posted in Herbert (George), Robinson (Marilynne), Stowe (Harriet Beecher), Wordsworth (William) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Anger in Ancient Greek Works

A new book looks at how the ancient Greeks approached the issue of anger in works such as “Iliad,” “Ajax,” and “Hecuba.

Also posted in Beowulf Poet, Euripides, Sophocles | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Great Pro-War Literature Doesn’t Exist

In which I argue that great pro-war literature doesn’t exist, including “The iliad” and “War and Peace.” (Both works are magnificent; I just don’t see them as pro-war.)

Also posted in Tennyson (Alfred Lord), Tolstoy (Leo) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bob Dylan, Gifted Storyteller

Bob Dylan, in his Nobel Acceptance Speech, made it clear that literary influences are as big in his song writing as musical influences.

Also posted in Dylan (Bob), Melville (Herman), Remarque (Erich Maria) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fantasy, a Portal to the Numinous

People are often drawn to fantasy in our post-Enlightenment world because they hunger for the numinous.

Also posted in Pullman (Philip), Sharp (William) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

#TrumpBookReports (in 140 characters)

For laughs, check out #TrumpBookReport on twitter. I’ve gathered some of the best renditions of Trump reviewing the classics.

Also posted in Bemelmans (Ludwig), Bronte (Charlotte), Bronte (Emily), Carroll (Lewis), Cervantes (Miguel de), Dickens (Charles), Dostoevsky (Fyodor), Dr. Seuss, Hawthorne (Nathaniel), Hemingway (Ernest), Hugo (Victor), Lee (Harper), Lewis (C. S.), Melville (Herman), Milne (A. A.), Rowling (J. K.), Salinger (J. D.), Shakespeare (William), Silverstein (Shel), Steinbeck (John), Stowe (Harriet Beecher), Styron (William), Tolstoy (Leo) | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

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  • 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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