Tag: Literature

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Part One Part Two Part Three Part Four Sovereign princes and their heirs may have many interests. They may love art or music or architecture. They may endeavor to be Renaissance men, writing poetry and studying ancient arts, such as horsemanship. But their primary responsibility is to defend their domains and their subjects. This has […]

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Part One Part Two Part Three The next day was easily as nerve-wracking a wait as the day before. Antoine, Percival, Walpole, and I spoke of various topics as we waited. It was only twelve-and-a-half hours before we felt the same sort of magical pulse as we had yesterday, except that the pulse was much […]

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Part One “The way I see it, this breaks down into two parts,” I said. “First, we have the problem of reversing the Sanctification Spells that have gone badly. Second, we need to find who has been spreading these flyers with information about the Sanctification Spell.” We were in the same conference room in Paris […]

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Libby Emmons and Paulina Enck, joined Culture Editor Emily Jashinsky to discuss Harry Potter author and radical feminist J.K. Rowling’s stance against transgenderism. Both Emmons and Enck are contributors at The Federalist, and Emmons also serves as senior editor at The Post Millennial.

Many on the left have recently attempted to cancel Rowling for her recent essay warning against the dangers of the transgender movement. Enck, a long-time Harry Potter fan, defended Rowling’s work as valuable and impactful regardless against Rowling’s personal opinions. Emmons observed there’s a demand for artists and writers to adhere to certain ideological identities, but she argued that their work ought to remain separate. The two also dove into criticisms of cancel culture more broadly.

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In fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue and accidentally discovered the New World. Horizons bloomed; the frontier spirit was born. Although Europeans were already poking around the coasts of Africa and the Indian subcontinent, Columbus sparked what we studied in school as the “Age of Exploration.” Now it’s the Age of Exploitation–no […]

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I review a lot of children’s books for a website called Redeemed Reader. A common theme in children’s fantasy is “magic” as a lost element in a disenchanted world. The protagonist is born with some supernatural gift or sensitivity that no one appreciates, but once presented with a problem he (or she) forges fearfully ahead […]

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Stanislaw Lem and Real Life

 

I have noticed in the past several weeks the surprise by some at what it takes to run our day-to-day lives. The stunning obliviousness as to how the things that we depend on are made and transported to us. “We must shut down the interstate rest areas,” some central planner exclaimed. Only to be shocked by the fact that truck drivers have to use the bathroom. I’m sure that planner, if he had ever been to a rest area, looked at the semis parked there with a type of resignation that he must mingle with the hoi polloi in a substandard bathroom since there wasn’t an exit nearby. It never occurring to him that every item he packed for his trip had originally traveled in a semi to get to him.

This same blindness infects the discussion of what an essential business is. “We must have protein,” the planners decide. The packing plants need to remain open. But just like they have no idea of what it takes to create a pencil, they have no idea of what’s essential beyond the slaughterhouse itself. The packing plant is essential, it must be cleaned. Are the companies that sell the water hoses, mops, rags, etc., essential as well?

The Civil War: Some Random Observations from Quarantine

 

With more time on my hands, I’ve taken the time to re-introduce myself to the American Civil War in both fiction and non-fiction. Not the happiest subject, I admit, but one that, at least for me, is endlessly fascinating and reminds me that things could be far worse.

On the non-fiction side, I’m halfway through the first volume of Shelby Foote’s three-volume history of the war. Yes, he was a man of the south (Mississippi), and the southern view of the war permeates his history. But his history falls far short of southern hagiography, and he writes like a dream. You’ve got to love studying the war to read these books, but they reward the reader’s diligence. Next up, I’m going to re-read Allen Guelzo’s Gettysburg: The Last Invasion, which I consider the best book on the subject.

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Once upon a time, I had two books that I never finished reading. They were two halves of the same novel, published in separate volumes and numbered so that the second took up, page number wise, just where the first ended. And then I lost them. So, as I have spent the last four years […]

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Unselfing, Marys and Marthas: Winter of Discontent, or Mind of Winter?

 

“One must have a mind of winter… And have been cold a long time… not to think / Of any misery in the sound of the wind,” the January wind. So says Wallace Stevens in his poem, The Snow Man. Misery and discontent aren’t identical, but a series of small miseries — unrelated to wintry weather — means February snuck up on me this year, almost as if January never happened, so misery must do for my “winter of discontent”. To “the listener, who listens in the snow,” hearing the sound of the wind, the poem promises if he becomes “nothing himself” he’ll “behold[] / Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.” People “cold a long time” can go numb, of course, and numbness is a kind of “nothing” obliterating misery. But numbness seems insufficient for a “mind of winter”.

For our own survival, we see winter’s cold as hostile. Our success as biological beings depends on our sensing discomfort, in order to mitigate risk before it’s too late. Concern for our own comfort is a form of self-regard that isn’t optional, if we care to live. Nonetheless, necessary self-regard is still self-regard. A mind of winter leaves self-regard behind. And so, it sees wintry beauty — the snowy, frozen world lit with “the distant glitter / Of the January sun” — simply because it is there to see, irrespective of what it might mean to the self. Winter in itself isn’t hostile, just indifferent: self-regard makes the indifference seem hostile. A mind of winter is “unselfed”.

City Journal editor Brian Anderson joins Vanessa Mendoza, executive vice president of the Manhattan Institute, for our second annual discussion of Brian’s summer and vacation reading list.

Summer is upon us, and the City Journal editors are ready for some vacation. We asked Brian to tell us what books he’s taking with him to the beach this year and why.

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While I read When I Whistle by Shusaku Endo this week, I thought I would go in a slightly different direction from reviewing the book. (I also just sat my last, three hour paper of the term and feel rather…interesting). When I Whistle is about memories, about growing into adulthood, and learning how to live […]

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Russell Kirk’s Favorite Loincloth, or The Conservative Novelist Adapts

 

“Different times demand different actions. Had I been born in Ancient Egypt I may well have advocated for change, even radical change. But modern times require shoring up the Old Moral Order.”– Russell Kirk

If you can, for just a moment pull your mind from Pharaoh Kirkses II and his sartorial choices, and contemplate his point. When asked to consider the conservative novelist, we normally choose from a set cast of characters; Evelyn Waugh, J.R.R. Tolkien, Allen Drury, G.K. Chesterton, and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. They represent the bulwark, the voice that stands loudly astride history yelling stop and portrays old values and mores with humanity and passion. Rarely do we stop to consider the novelist that finds those values buried beneath the deep layers of their own modernity, and by showing only faint glimmers argues for their modified return. Two novelists separated by birth and an ocean, Ma Jian and Walker Percy, provide powerful examples of the adapted conservative novelist and his worth.

“The carbine lies across my lap. Just below the cloverleaf, in the ruined motel, the three girls are waiting for me.” Dr. Thomas More, the narrator of Love in the Ruins, is not a well man. He drinks too much, wanders in the dead of night through malarial swamps, and lusts after every woman he can find, just for a moment without his dead daughter and gnostic spouse. In Dr. More there is none of the saintly debauchery of Sebastian Flyte or even the simple sinfulness of Wormwood’s ward, he is a funny and fallen man fully conscious of the beauty he is slowly losing a drunken grip on. Unlike the more famous Thanatos Syndrome, which has been accused even by Percy fans of being preachy, Love in the Ruins thrives on its subtlety, on the guilty pleasure that is watching the moral deterioration of Dr. More which expresses itself in jabs at Commonweal, George Wallace, and the prosperity gospel. Dr. More wishes, it grows clear as the novel goes on, to be faced with the simpler choice of Thomas More, to sacrifice himself to martyrdom and be done with a society that refused to allow old values to adapt or even exist.

Has the Death of the Great Books Been Greatly Exaggerated?

 

I saw this article in my news feed, lamenting the collapse of interest in The Great Books. Articles much like this one show up often in my news feeds. The collapse of interest in The Great Books, the Classics, traditional curricula, etc., is “common knowledge” amongst conservative intellectuals.

I don’t have sufficient data to disprove that this “collapse” is occurring, but anecdotal evidence makes me skeptical. In the past, there were essentially three ways to be exposed to The Great Books: 1) They were assigned in a classroom. 2) They were assigned by parents who owned a high-quality home library. 3) A reader would stumble upon them in a public library.

The Lord of the Rings: A Classic

 

I was very young when I was first introduced to The Hobbit. I could not have been older than seven when I was swept completely into the journey with Bilbo and the dwarves on their way to reclaim treasure from the dragon. When the story was over, I wanted the magic to continue, so I sought out my father’s copy of The Fellowship of the Ring, which was much more difficult to understand. (Tolkien loved him some semicolons, and I was a second grader.)

The truth was, I wasn’t quite ready for Frodo’s epic adventure then, so I had to put it aside for a while, disappointed by my first introduction to Tolkien’s next generation. I thought Bilbo’s nephew, Sam, Pippin, and Merry were a bit boring. It took them too long to do anything. I did not get beyond them stealing mushrooms, as if that was even noteworthy. Already cynical, I snapped the cover shut and quietly returned that tale to the bookcase to collect dust again in my parents’ home.