Virginia Woolf Was More Than Just a Women’s Writer

She was a great observer of everyday life. Virginia Woolf, that great lover of language, would surely be amused to know that, some seven decades after her death, she endures most vividly in popular culture as a pun—within the title of Edward Albee’s celebrated drama, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? In Albee’s play, a troubled college professor[…]

Walt Whitman in Russia: Three Love Affairs

Walt Whitman’s influence on the creative output of 20th-century Russia — particularly in the years surrounding the 1917 Revolution — was enormous. For the 200th anniversary of Whitman’s birth, Nina Murray looks at the translators through which Russians experienced his work, not only in a literary sense — through the efforts of Konstantin Balmont and[…]

Vernon Lee’s ‘Satan the Waster’: Pacifism and the Avant-Garde

Part essay collection, part shadow-play, part macabre ballet, Satan the Waster: A Philosophic War Trilogy (1920) is one of Vernon Lee’s most political and experimental works. Amanda Gagel explores this modernist masterpiece which lays siege to the patriotism plaguing Europe and offers a vision for its possible pacifist future. When all the nations shall welter[…]

Chaucer Was More Than English, He Was a Great European Poet

The mantle of patriarchal Englishness would have seemed distinctly odd to Chaucer himself. By Dr. Marion TurnerAssociate Professor of EnglishUniversity of Oxford In 2013, a Prospect magazine profile of the UKIP leader Nigel Farage described the Brexiteer’s party in Chaucerian terms: UKIP is indeed a rag-tag bag … of cussed, contrary, wilful, protesting, obstreperous, bantering Englishmen and[…]

The Extremism of King Creon in the Greek Tragedy ‘Antigone’

Political and moral views are framed in terms of a fight between patriot and traitor, law and conscience, and chaos and order. In a Greek tragedy written in the middle of the fifth century B.C., three teenagers struggle with a question that could be asked now: What happens when a ruler declares that those who[…]

Aspiring to a Higher Plane: A Mathematical Fiction in 1884

In 1884 Edwin Abbott Abbott published Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions, perhaps the first ever book that could be described as “mathematical fiction”. Ian Stewart, author of Flatterland and The Annotated Flatland, introduces the strange tale of the geometric adventures of A. Square. Edwin Abbott Abbott, who became Headmaster of the City of London School at the early[…]

American Poet Elizabeth Bishop in the Edgy Culture of Mid-20th Century Brazil

“The loneliest person who ever lived,” she once called herself. As Brazil attempts to train all eyes on the opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympics, observers continue to be distracted by the country’s travails: the recent Zika outbreak, economic difficulties, and the controversial impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff. Not a few people are wondering how[…]

Culture Shock: An Analysis of Early Modern Europe through Arts and Literature

Examining the cultural heritage of Early Modern Europe and its influence in contemporary thought. By Angel Solis, Mariah Radue, and Nora Katz Introduction The content included here is directly related to the strong influence of the cultural heritage of Early Modern Europe in the Western world and the importance of these documents and works as[…]

Socialism and the Vampire: Comrades, Capitalists, and Bloodsuckers

Vampire fiction as class allegory predates Dracula. In May 1897 Constable and Co published a limited print run of a new novel by a London-based Irish theatre manager and occasional author named Bram Stoker.  Stoker had enjoyed moderate critical recognition with a series of overly-sentimental pot-boilers and ghoulish short stories over the course of the[…]

Tru Life: How Truman Capote Became a Cautionary Tale of Celebrity Culture

The ups and downs of a big-time writer. In a life that spanned nearly six decades, Truman Capote wrote stories that remain reliably in print. The short story “A Christmas Memory” is a yuletide classic, and his popular novel, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, is a touchstone for young, restless souls trying to make it on their[…]

How Translation Obscured the Music and Wordplay of the Bible

Translators of the Bible have rarely understood the need or made the effort to convey the literary dimension of the Hebrew works. An essential fact about the Hebrew Bible is that most of its narrative prose as well as its poetry manifests a high order of sophisticated literary fashioning. This means that any translation that[…]

Between Gods and Animals: Becoming Human in the Gilgamesh Epic

In short, the new fragment reveals a vision of humanity as a process of maturation that unfolds between the animal and the divine. The Epic of Gilgamesh is a Babylonian poem composed in ancient Iraq, millennia before Homer. It tells the story of Gilgamesh, king of the city of Uruk. To curb his restless and destructive[…]

Montaigne, Whitman, and Thoreau Make the Case for Wasting Time

There is a time to embrace the joy of doing less. In The Art of the Wasted Day, a new book that got a good bit of attention this summer from readers and critics alike, author Patricia Hampl argues that doing less is an ideal we should embrace throughout the year. Hampl laments that she’s often[…]

Over a Century of The Secret Garden

The year 2011 marked the 100th anniversary of the children’s classic The Secret Garden. Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina, author of Frances Hodgson Burnett: The Unexpected Life of the Author of The Secret Garden, takes a look at the life of Burnett and how personal tragedy underpinned the creation of her most famous work. “With regard to The[…]

Stories of a Hollow Earth

In 1741 the Norwegian-Danish author Ludvig Holberg published Klimii Iter Subterraneum, a satirical science-fiction/fantasy novel detailing the adventures of its hero Niels Klim in a utopian society existing beneath the surface of the earth. Peter Fitting, author of Subterranean Worlds: A Critical Anthology, explores Holberg’s book in the wider context of the hollow earth theory.[…]

Lewis Carroll and The Hunting of the Snark

In 1876 Lewis Carroll published by far his longest poem – a fantastical epic tale recounting the adventures of a bizarre troupe of nine tradesmen and a beaver. Carrollian scholar, Edward Wakeling, introduces The Hunting of the Snark. Although best known as the author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland(1865) and Through the Looking-Glass (1871), Lewis Carroll – the[…]

On Native Ground: Indigenous Presences and Southern Narratives of Captivity, Removal, and Repossession

How contemporary southeastern Native writers work to repossess homelands that they rearticulate not as “the South” but as Native ground. Overview This essay argues that mainstream, familiar concepts of a bordered South and a recognizable southernness, however permeable and flexible, are mostly dysfunctional when it comes to American Indian literatures. “Native southern ground” can nevertheless[…]

How ‘The Late Great Planet Earth’ Made the Apocalypse a Popular Concern

Hal Lindsey and C. C. Carlson’s The Late Great Planet Earth introduced millions of readers worldwide to end-times prophecy. This book [The Late Great Planet Earth] contains incontrovertible proof that Christianity is the one true way. Everybody should read this. Amazon Reader Review Every 3 years Hal Lindsay [sic] writes a new book denoting how the world will end[…]

A Brief History of Animals in Early Modern and Modern Children’s Literature

Books had the practical aim of helping children to learn to read, count, and understand the world around them. Stories about animals have always been a staple of children’s literature. At first, such books were not particularly concerned with entertainment, but had the practical aim of helping children to learn to read, count and understand[…]

Seeds of Rebellion in Plantation Fiction: Victor Séjour’s ‘The Mulatto’

Through its representation of physical and psychological effects, Séjour’s story inaugurated the literary delineation of slavery’s submission-rebellion binary. By Dr. Ed PiacentinoProfessor Emeritus of EnglishHigh Point University Overview This essay examines Victor Séjour’s “The Mulatto” (1837), a short story acknowledged as the first fictional work by an African American. Through its representation of physical and[…]

Rambling Reflections: On Summers in Switzerland and Sheffield

In the footsteps of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Karl Philipp Moritz — from the peace of Lake Biel to the rugged Peaks — Seán Williams considers the connection between walking and writing. In late summer and early autumn of 1765, Rousseau was on the run. He was always fleeing some sort of persecution: at times very[…]

The Double World: One Man’s Search for Meaning in the Seattle Public Library

Reality had always been viewed as a single unfolding history.  Stapp postulated another physical, not spiritual, world. I knew Orrill Stapp before I met him. The thin man with the wire-rimmed glasses, battered briefcase, and scuffed shoes. The black woman with the long tweed coat, red lipstick, and bulging shoulder bags. The elderly man who looked like John Bolton, only with[…]

J. W. Waterhouse’s ‘Ulysses and the Sirens’: Breaking Tradition and Revealing Fears

Waterhouse’s images of Circe, sirens and sorceresses raise a number of questions. By Michelle Bonollo Mr Waterhouse selected for illustration the well-known passage in the twelfth book of the ‘Odyssey’ of Homer, in which the poet has described the passage of the wanderer’s vessel through the Strait of Messina, with Scylla on the one side[…]

Whose Odyssey Is It Anyway?

The only possible response can be that it is no one’s and everyone’s. The death of Martin Bernal in June attracted less media attention than one might have hoped for the man who brought an unprecedented attention to the contemporary study of classics. His 1987 work, Black Athena, was not the first to argue for[…]

A Tiny Village in Vermont Was the Perfect Spot to Hide Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Without distractions, he produced some of his best writing there in exile. By Ted Lawrence, J.D. Some writers are so effective at capturing the places they write about that the two become forever linked. Think of Balzac and Paris. Faulkner and Mississippi. Thoreau and Walden Pond. Solzhenitsyn and . . . Vermont? Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn didn’t actually write[…]

The Man Who Made American Modernism and Modernism American

Jame’s Laughlin’s life amalgamated many seemingly dissonant strains in twentieth-century America into a coherent whole. The American poet-critic Ezra Pound believed that present throughout history are nodes of energy, bundles of power and expression that meld together many diverse and even conflicting forces and ideas into a harmonious whole. These nodes of energy could be[…]

Made in Taiwan?: An Eighteenth-Century Frenchman’s Fictional Formosa

Fictional characters, unlike laudanum-addicted impostors, never really die. A handsome youth with shoulder-length golden hair sits in a London garret, pondering. He is composing his first book—a work he believes will transform him from a penniless foreigner into a literary cause celebré. But first he must answer a self-imposed question: what do Taiwanese aristocrats eat for[…]