Category Archives: Literature

Surplus Thoughts

The following entry, comprising unripe meditations and random quotes, is an attempt to clean out my notebook (and take a bit of a break) before lining up new projects. Irving Babbitt: “If true art consists in having something to say … Continue reading

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Literate Tyrants

Gary Saul Morson is a professor of literature at Northwestern whose frequent essays in The New Criterion focus on Russian authors and intellectuals like Turgenev and Koropotkin. His recent commentary on Joseph Stalin tackles a somewhat different subject, since the Soviet dictator was no mere theorist. … Continue reading

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Novel Insights

I refer not to contemporary observations (which are usually of dubious value), but insights found in some vintage novels. Not long ago I mentioned R. Austin Freeman’s Mystery of 31, New Inn (1912), with its sense of old-fashioned congeniality. In one passage the narrator … Continue reading

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H. G. Wells: Facts and Fictions

H. G. Wells’ short novel The Time Machine is one of the great stories of all time, and a work that I’ve commented on previously.  Thus I was delighted to listen to a recent lecture on the subject by Theodore Dalrymple arranged by Ralston College. We … Continue reading

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Kropotkin and Radical Chic

Cardinal Newman remarked in his Apologia that “There is a time for everything, and many a man desires a reformation of an abuse… but forgets to ask himself whether the right time for it is come.” And so “he spoils a good … Continue reading

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Detectives, Pubs, and Tobacco

R. Austin Freeman (1862-1943) created a detective second perhaps only to Sherlock Holmes in his blend of realism and readability. His fictional Dr. Thorndyke is a forensic investigator, or a “medico-legal” professional, as it was termed at the time. Among his … Continue reading

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August Derleth, In re: Sherlock Holmes

“London was lost in a fog, a heavy autumnal curtain shutting the city away from our lodgings in Praed Street….”—from “The Adventure of the Frightened Baronet” It seems I am guilty of the same bait and switch employed by August … Continue reading

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“Simplicity of the Authentick Narrative”

In Samuel Johnson’s biography of Abraham Cowley (1618-1667) one finds an interesting insight on the aesthetics of religious writing. Johnson is discussing the biblically-inspired poem Davideis (subtitled: “A Sacred Poem of the Troubles of David”) modeled on the epic works of Homer … Continue reading

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The Written Word

“I found it easier to retreat into solitude, preferably accompanied by a book.”—Theodore Dalrymple In a recent essay at the New English Review, Dalrymple (a.k.a. Anthony Daniels) provides some amusing comments about the life of the introverted bibliophile: I leave it to psychologists … Continue reading

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A Tale of All Saints and the Sussex Countryside

“I woke the next morning to the noise, the pleasant noise, of water boiling in a kettle. May God bless that noise and grant it to be the most sacred noise in the world. For it is the noise that … Continue reading

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