Tag Archives: Wife of Bath

When Fiction Trumps Truth

Wednesday Writing last week for the New York Times’ “What Is Power?” series, Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari argued that fiction is a more powerful force than truth in politics. I extend the discussion to literature (which Harari does not discuss) because of its reliance upon fabrication in the service of a higher understanding. Camus, […]

Posted in Chaucer (Geoffrey), Dostoevsky (Fyodor), Hardy (Thomas), Shakespeare (William) | Also tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fantasy Frees Us from Narrow Thinking

Friday I share today a new insight that I gained from my recent Lifelong Learning class about “Wizards and Enchantresses.” To set it up, I first share my theory of fantasy. As I see it, fantasy is always oppositional in its invocation of magic and the supernatural. If it flourished in the wake of the […]

Posted in Chaucer (Geoffrey) | Also tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

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 | Also tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

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 […]

Posted in Beowulf Poet, Fielding (Henry), Melville (Herman), Pope (Alexander) | Also tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spirituality in Nature

John Gatta’s “Spirit of Place in American Literary Culture” explains why we find certain places, in nature and in civilization, to be infused with spirit.

Posted in Chaucer (Geoffrey), Coleridge (Samuel Taylor), Levertov (Denise), Virgil | Also tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Riding with Chaucer into the New Year

Base your New Year’s resolutions on your favorite characters. I look to the Wife of Bath.

Posted in Chaucer (Geoffrey) | Also tagged | Leave a comment

Trump in Chaucer, Shakespeare & Conrad

When compared to people called “dotard” in Chaucer and Shakespeare, Trump fits the insult hurled at him by Kim Jong-un. His statement to African leaders, meanwhile, makes him sound like a “Heart of Darkness” ivory trader.

Posted in Conrad (Joseph), Shakespeare (William) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chaucer’s Wife, an Early Gaslighter

Donald Trump’s non-ending falsehoods have sometimes been described as “gaslighting,” after the old Charles Boyer-Ingrid Bergman film. An early literary example of a gaslighter is Chaucer’s Wife of Bath, although her use of the tactic is far more justifiable.

Posted in Chaucer (Geoffrey) | Also tagged , | Leave a comment

Stories Have Always Opened Up the Future

An anthropologist argues that human beings took over the world because they had the ability to compose fictions. Literature continues to point the way forward for us as a species.

Posted in Chaucer (Geoffrey), Shakespeare (William) | Also tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

  • AVAILABLE NOW!

  • 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.

  • Sign up for weekly newsletter

    Your email will not be shared or sold.
    * = required field

    powered by MailChimp!