Category: Literature

Aardvarks and Alphabets

Just 35 miles from my home in northeast Cambodia, there lives an indigenous minority called the Kachok. There are about four thousand Kachok in nine different villages. While they are ethnically related to other tribes in our region, as well...

/ June 8, 2022

Hobbits and Empire: Geography and the Life of Nations in Tolkien’s Writings

As we journey through J.R.R. Tolkien’s world of Middle-earth, we find a remarkable variety of distinctive landscapes, from the rural towns of the Shire, to the abandoned halls of Moria, the Elvish tree-city of Lothlórien, the Forest of Drúadan, the...

/ May 10, 2022

Concentric Roots

In the twenty-sixth canto of Dante’s Inferno, the pilgrim and his guide come across two figures encased in flame. Virgil reveals to Dante that within this single fire dwells Diomedes and Ulysses, grieving over the horse that penetrated Troy. They...

/ March 14, 2022

Contemplative Realism: The Germinal Yearnings of a New Literary Movement

“Realists do not fear the results of their study.” —Dostoevsky Maybe I was a twenty-something romantic haunting the East Side of Milwaukee. A draught stole past the cream city bricks, trespassed the strips of sackcloth patching the window. Once a...

/ February 23, 2022

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