Category Archives: Literature

As I Please: Orwellian Insights

The term “Orwellian” typically implies something ominous, especially in the realm of politics, thanks to the British writer’s monitory fantasies 1984 and Animal Farm. But here I use the adjective more loosely, referring to Orwell’s perceptive treatment of a wide … Continue reading

Posted in Art and Culture, George Orwell, Literature, Politics

The Disappointed Futurist

A hundred years ago, the British author H. G. Wells was a prominent social prognosticator. Today his theoretical views are largely neglected. This is the lament of a new biography by Sarah Cole, discussed in the Wall Street Journal. Cole’s … Continue reading

Posted in Fiction, George Orwell, H. G. Wells, Literature

A Prophet Against Anonymous Dictatorship

“If you do not watch out, what the dictators wanted to achieve in a few years will materialize in fifty or a hundred; the result will be the same: the State will have conquered all, absorbed all; you will have … Continue reading

Posted in History, Literature, Philosophy, Politics, Religion

Molnar on Bernanos

“If such a thing could be at all stated of a Christian… Bernanos could be called an ‘alienated man,’ somewhat in the sense in which Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Kafka were alienated. In reality, such a man is the least alienated … Continue reading

Posted in History, Literature, Philosophy, Politics

Man Being a Creature Who Compares

Suffering from insomnia and looking for a hefty tome that I can studiously devote myself to (and distract myself from sublunary realities), I came across Cardinal Newman’s Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine. The first chapter begins with this … Continue reading

Posted in Cardinal Newman, Literature, Philosophy, Theodore Dalrymple

Villains, Victorians, and Westerns

In a recent essay for The New Criterion, Henrik Bering refers to his youthful initiation into nineteenth century English literature: “I was all set to become the perfect Victorian, ready to take on the duties of [British] empire, were it … Continue reading

Posted in Art and Culture, Fiction, Literature

Shades of Right and Wrong

“Men who look on nature, and their fellow-men, and cry that all is dark and gloomy, are in the right; but the sombre colours are reflections from their own jaundiced eyes and hearts. The real hues are delicate, and need … Continue reading

Posted in Charles Dickens, Fiction, Literature

Benevolent to Man, Reverent to God

In a letter written in 1777 to the bookseller Edward Dilly, the biographer Samuel Johnson said of the somewhat obscure poet Isaac Watts (1674-1748), “I would not willingly be reduced to tell of him only that he was born and … Continue reading

Posted in Literature, Religion, Samuel Johnson

The Anti-Intellectual Intellectual

“Often a simple answer is a wrong one.”—Josef Pieper Theodore Dalrymple, in Out Into the Beautiful World, discusses the opinionated erudition of English literary critic William Hazlitt (1778-1830). In treating of famous pedants, Hazlitt states: “There is no dogma, however … Continue reading

Posted in Literature, Philosophy, Theodore Dalrymple

At the Conference with Dalrymple

“Once you have reached a certain age and experienced the majority of all that you will ever experience, almost everything reminds you of something else.”—Theodore Dalrymple I should immediately point out, for fear of being accused of false advertising, that … Continue reading

Posted in Art and Culture, Literature, Theodore Dalrymple