Literary Themes

31 posts

Break, Blow, Burn: Camille Paglia Reads Forty-three of the World’s Best Poems


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Blest be anyone who, in this age of meretricious materialism, nascent narcissism, and hapless hedonism, returns us to poetry, to the joy of language for its own sake, for its distilled passion, and for its summons to discipline, in both writer and reader.

Between Alpha and Omega: Some Observations on Poetry and Poetry’s Task in our Time


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We lived heretofore in the multitude of villages scattered world-wide amongst the ruins of the Tower of Babel. Civilization’s tapestry, its complicated patterns interwoven from multitudes of poets and poetries, once covered their walls and held our attention. Will there come to be in the global village but one faceless, boring bard who speaks with the reduced, infinitely reductive voice the simplified and platitudinous messages of the Media?

Archival Culture(s)


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It is scarcely news that in a vast, pluralistic country like the United States, minorities should feel themselves threatened with absorption into the larger society, and that they should cling to some form of cultural identity. It begins poignantly when school children pledge allegiance to “ … one nation, indivisible, […]

No Heroes Need Apply


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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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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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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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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 […]

Festival of the Earth: Rabindranath Tagore’s Environmental Vision


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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.

How to Write a Successful Literature Review


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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 […]

Anne Hathaway plays Fantine in Tom Hooper's Les Miserables

Trailer Watch: Les Misérables


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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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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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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”?