California Literary Review

Literary Themes

No Heroes Need Apply

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December 15th, 2019

By the time we come to T.S. Eliot, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ernest Hemingway in the 1920’s, we find a hero characteristic of the period of entre les deux guerres: he is either passive and/or maimed in his masculinity; that is, fatally in his (phallic) heroism.

Stemming from … Nowhere?

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December 13th, 2019

To sum up in a phrase the true and deepest character of Lawrence’s genius, it was given by his close friend Aldous Huxley in an introduction to the first collected letters shortly after his death: he was a mystical materialist. And thereon hangs the tale I shall unfold.

Lola! Lola! Lola!

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December 12th, 2019

The notion of Art’s secular epiphany takes us to Vladimir Nabokov, a reader of Joyce. As I recall, it was about 1956 or so that an excerpt of his then unpublishable LOLITA appeared in an early number of Anchor Review.

The Life of R.K. Narayan

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December 11th, 2019

R.K. Narayan Narayan’s fiction rarely addresses political issues or high philosophy. He writes with grace and humor, about a fictional town Malgudi and its inhabitants; and their little lives. Narayan is a classic teller of tales; an enduring appeal springs from his canvas where common men and women of all times and places are joined […]

Nick Bottom’s Blessing

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December 10th, 2019

The relativism that relishes diversity for diversity’s sake is one that eschews æsthetic judgment or choice. Both however are necessary.

Festival of the Earth: Rabindranath Tagore’s Environmental Vision

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December 6th, 2019

I knew it occurred every Autumn. And every Autumn I intended to go. And after many trials and as many errors, I finally made it one August. It was the festival of the earth.

Watchman, What of the Night?

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December 4th, 2019

The novel as a perpetually-remade form of high style and sophistication is, in our commerce, scarcely recognized, let alone understood.

How to Write a Successful Literature Review

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February 3rd, 2017

In many ways writing a good literature review is like writing any run of the mill high quality essay or research paper. Success hinges on the selection of a meaningful and defensible topic, then performing the requisite research and analysis of supporting material. This work will culminate into a written essay in which the writer […]

Trailer Watch: Les Misérables

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May 30th, 2012

This is, in showbiz terms, the textbook definition of “a big deal.” After all this anticipation, it will almost certainly become the definitive film version of the show, for good or ill. And so it must be done right the first time. We are a long way from Spider-Man now.

The Weekly Listicle: Method In Our Movie Madness

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October 7th, 2011

The practice of blessing mass entertainment with the bard’s prose confers a kind of loftiness upon it, or at least that must be the idea. A quick glance indicates that Shakespeare has provided titles for an alarming number of Star Trek episodes, just for starters. This week, lend your ears to Brett Harrison Davinger and me (Dan Fields) as we look at some of our favorite films to borrow a title from the works of Shakespeare.

Book Review: Jane Austen: Blood Persuasion by Janet Mullany

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October 3rd, 2011

At root, the novel seems to rest on a misapprehension: that the world of Jane Austen would be more exciting if it had vampires in it. During it, we discover that in the first draft of Mansfield Park, Fanny was, in fact, one of said bloodthirsty beasties. Did anyone ever read Mansfield Park and think “Not bad, but it could do with more of the undead”?

Trailer Watch: Martin Scorsese’s Hugo

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July 15th, 2011

Martin Scorsese, Hollywood titan, enjoys a special reputation for directing violent, foul-mouthed crime flicks. Admittedly, he does this very well, but the notoriety of movies like Taxi Driver, Casino, and most recently The Departed tends to eclipse the true diversity and scope of his body of work. Even when his choice of material seems misguided, […]

Book Review: Beautiful & Pointless: A Guide to Modern Poetry by David Orr

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July 6th, 2011

Except for a (thankfully) brief, unscientific use of Google metrics, Orr beautifully shares instances of why one might fall in love with poetry. He recounts his life-changing discovery of the poet Philip Larkin, and his experience of helping his father, a stroke victim, improve his speech through readings of Edward Lear’s “The Owl and the Pussycat.”

Bloody Sexy Things: Adapting Clive Barker

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June 28th, 2011

Clive Barker has lent his eyes and hands to virtually every medium, from page to the screen to the stage to the canvas to the console. However, film fans know him particularly as a horror master. There is so much undermined material for gifted fantasy filmmakers that perhaps we could dispense with further Candyman sequels and retire the Hellraiser juggernaut with contented hearts, and enjoy a Clive Barker renaissance clad in all new colors.

The Weekly Listicle: On Adapting The Classics

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March 11th, 2011

With the arrival of Jane Eyre from Sin Nombre director Cary Fukunaga, we see another standard of the English-class bookshelf put to the screen. Mia Wasikowska, lately of Alice In Wonderland, headlines as the eponymous Jane, in a very Gothic-looking version of Charlotte Brontë’s best known novel. As I recall, it is quite a dark […]

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