Category Archives: Melville (Herman)

How I Make Literary Connections

Wednesday A friend the other day asked where my ideas come from, especially when I apply a passage from one century to incidents in another. Yesterday, for instance, I said that Trump confidant Roger Stone reminded me of a passage in Herman Melville’s Confidence Man. So how did that enter my head? To answer, let […]

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How Deep Is Roger Stone’s Act?

Tuesday What are we to make of longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone’s flamboyant behavior following his arrest by Special Counselor Robert Mueller for lying to Congress about his contacts with Wikileaks? I think back to a passage from Herman Melville’s The Confidence Man that I applied to Trump during the campaign but which applies equally […]

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Trump’s Enablers Operate as Pilot Fish

Herman Melville’s “Maldive Shark” captures how policy works in the White House. Trump is the shark, his enablers the pilot fish.

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Does the GOP Love Big Brother?

Do Congressional Republicans flatter Trump Goneril-like out of convenience or do they “love Big Brother”? Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor may hold the key.

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Trump, Pale Ravener of Horrible Meat

Melville is famous for exploiting and then casting off advisors. Perhaps they resemble the pilot fish in Herman Melville’s “The Maldive Shark.”

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Like the Crocus Budding through the Snow

Melville’s “Clarel” wrestles with faith and doubt and whether science can be reconciled with religion. In the end, the poet tells us to look to the heart, a good Advent message.

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Poetry Helped Feed Robert E. Lee Myth

Herman Melville and Julie Ward Howe, although anti-slavery, unfortunately wrote poems which helped mythologize Robert E. Lee, whose statues have become symbols of white supremacy. And indeed, Lee was a white supremacist.

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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.

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2016’s Top Story–Trump, Trump, Trump

Looking back of 2016, I choose three posts that stood out to me, all dealing with Trump. One compares him to Satan inspiring the invasion of Earth by Sin and Death in “Paradise Lost.” The other two compare him to Herman Melville’s “Confidence Man” and to the narrator’s son in the Raymond Carver short story “Why, Honey?”

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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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