Category: Literature

The World Becomes Light Again

I have long had an obsession with books. Since middle school, at least, I have loved to sit by a shelf and examine the titles, to arrange them, to examine their cover art, to read the summaries and flip through...

/ January 5, 2022

In Defense of Dante

I read Dante for the first time in my ninth grade English class at McNeil High School. I have hazy memories of my teacher lecturing about the first few circles of Dante’s inferno, but the mental image of the ninth...

/ December 27, 2021

Why Christmas Ghost Stories?

“The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” is, surely, the most thrilling Christmas song. It’s the pre-chorus – that sudden lurch into minor chords. Glorious, glitzy euphoria suddenly hangs in the balance, your stomach drops out, and wonder is split...

/ December 20, 2021

Journey Into Understanding: Adapting George MacDonald’s Phantastes

Cave Pictures Publishing is creating a graphic novel adaptation of George MacDonald’s classic fairy tale allegory Phantastes, a work that famously was a major influence on a young C.S. Lewis. I got to discuss the project (currently on Kickstarter) with...

/ November 15, 2021

Portraits of Anxiety in Dostoevsky and Dickens

E.M. Forster wrote, “it is the function of the novelist to reveal the hidden life at its source.” In Aspects of the Novel, Forester explains that while it is the work of the historian to deal with the external details...

/ November 10, 2021

100 Days of Dante

2021 marks the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri (b. 1265). Dante was a poet, a politician, a philosopher, and a theologian. He is best known for his masterpiece, La Commedia, known to anglophone readers as The Divine...

/ September 8, 2021

Prolegomena to Poetry

A poem is a thought that comes out sounding good, and lingers awhile; But it doesn’t have to rhyme, Though it could What is poetry? A poet will maintain that it is a noble enterprise; a numinous expression of the...

/ June 15, 2021

The Austen Years: A Review in Six Movements

Rachel Cohen. The Austen Years: A Memoir in Five Novels. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2020. 304 pp, $28. “We do not enjoy a story fully at the first reading. Not till the curiosity, the sheer narrative lust, has been...

/ May 5, 2021

In Praise of Reading Aloud

It felt a bit awkward at first, a group of friends in their mid twenties sitting around in my library in an old Capitol Hill row house. We had all brought our copies of various Tolkien, some with a well-loved...

/ April 6, 2021

Befriending Books: On Reading and Thinking with Alan Jacobs and Zena Hitz

We like to think, of course, that we think; but what people allow to pass for thinking is usually about 90 percent reshuffling of images. —Robert Farrar Capon Do you want to do intellectual work? Begin by creating within you...

/ November 23, 2020