Tagged: literature

Tolkien Books on Shelf

What Happened to the Magic? On Modern Fantasy Literature

Lory over at Emerald City Book Review has a wonderfully thought-provoking post about the her relationship with the fantasy genre. I began to leave a comment there but it ended up growing too long for a simple comment, so I offer my thoughts here. Here is how Lory began: When I was growing up, I almost exclusively read fantasy. C.S. Lewis, George MacDonald, L. Frank Baum, Lewis Carroll, Ursula LeGuin, Madeleine L’Engle, E. Nesbit were the writers I read again and again, devouring every one of their books....

Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan Cites The Odyssey, Moby Dick, and All Quiet on the Western Front in Noble Prize Lecture

Bob Dylan’s Nobel Lecture is a meditation on the relationship between literature and lyrics. It’s a powerful witness to the lifelong influence great literature can have on a person’s life. Dylan explains that the books he read in grammar school have had a profound influence on his life and on his songwriting: Don Quixote, Ivanhoe, Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver’s Travels, A Tale of Two Cities, but most especially Moby-Dick, All Quiet on the Western Front, and The Odyssey. He says the books he read in grammar school gave you...

First Sentence of Pride and Prejudice

200 Years of Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice was first published in January of 1813, and it remains one of the greatest novels ever written, appearing on seven of the thirteen “great books” lists I used to compile my personal summary of great books. In The Joy of Reading, Charles Van Doren describes the novel in this way: Pride and Prejudice was her first novel; she wrote a version of it before she was twenty. She put it aside to write Sense and Sensibility, her first work to be published; she then rewrote...


Visual Literature: With a Piece of Chalk

I am constantly amazed at the ability of the human race to create art that inspires and moves. If literature is “writing that treats human concerns thoughtfully,” then the following short film is visual literature. I’m looking forward to sharing this with my students this coming school year.

Charles Dickens

Time to Go to That There Burying-Ground: Dickens’ 200th Birthday

Ralph Fiennes reads a moving excerpt from Bleak House as Prince Charles lays a wreath of flowers on Dickens’ grave. Today the world remembers Charles Dickens, born on this day two hundred years ago. I have a great fondness for Dickens’s works, especially David Copperfield and Hard Times. One of Dickens’ particular qualities was the ability to make one laugh and shudder at the same time. As Chesterton says, “These two primary dispositions of Dickens, to make the flesh creep and to make the sides ache, were a...

Tolkien Relaxing Under a Tree

Leaf by Niggle: One of Tolkien’s Most Overlooked Works

Today is J.R.R. Tolkien’s 120th birthday. Known, of course, mainly for The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, one of his most under appreciated works is a gem of a short story called “Leaf by Niggle.” This simple story is a beautiful allegory for the creative life and for the transition into eternal life. Similar to C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce, “Leaf by Niggle” is much more subtle. It is also deeply spiritual and rooted in a solid Catholic theology of art and afterlife. “Leaf by Niggle” complements...

To the Field of Stars

The 10 Best Books I Read in 2011

2011 was a record year for me in terms of number of books read. I use Goodreads.com to keep track of my reading, and about this time last year Goodreads opened up the 2011 Reading Challenge. My goal for the year was 36 books, which was a slight increase over the past few years. I had read 31 books in both 2009 and 2010, and my previous high was 34 books in 2006. I felt fairly confident that I could read three books a month. Much to my...

With Fire and Sword

Review: With Fire and Sword An Historical Novel of Poland and Russia.

With Fire and Sword An Historical Novel of Poland and Russia. by Henryk Sienkiewicz My rating: 4 of 5 stars With Fire and Sword must be one of the greatest historical epics you’ve never heard of. Set in the 17th century, and told from the Polish point of view, it recounts a Cossack uprising against the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The historical backdrop serves as a grand canvas for the portraits of courage, love, and spiritual devotion that form the heart of the story. In print, With Fire and Sword...

The Accolade

A Glimpse of Heaven Through Mythopoeic Literature

Having just finished Peter Kreeft’s book Heaven: The Heart’s Deepest Longing, I find myself aching for the numinous: Have you ever felt it–the haunting of the world?…The haunting has been called the sense of the “numinous.”  It is the sense that the world we see is haunted by something we do not see, an unseen presence.” Kreeft goes on to discuss this haunting in the human face, romantic love, pictures, stories and music.  I think I have lost touch with the numinous in my daily life as practical...

Walden by Henry David Thoreau

Top 10 Henry David Thoreau Quotes

I was looking at my commonplace book and was again struck by the eloquence of Henry David Thoreau. Here are some of my favorite Thoreau quotes, most of them from Walden: I should not talk so much about myself if there were anybody else whom I knew as well. …to stand on the meeting of two eternities, the past and the future, which is precisely the present moment Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new. In short, I am convinced, both by faith...


Possessed by Books

I’ve known some bibliomaniacs in my time, but Archdeacon Meadow has got to be one of the worst afflicted: Archdeacon Meadow accumulated so many books that he was forced to sell a considerable portion of his collection. But as their auction proceeded he experienced such passionate anguish that he left the room and returned again in disguise to begin bidding for his own books. –Otto L. Bettman, The Delights of Reading: Quotes, Notes and Anecdotes

Thornton Wilder

Is Purgatory Like a Novel?

What makes fiction so powerful and so poignant? Thornton Wilder sums it up in one of the most moving quotes I have ever read: If Queen Elizabeth or Frederick the Great or Ernest Hemingway were to read their biographies, they would exclaim, “Ah, my secret is still safe.” But if Natasha Rostov were to read War and Peace she would cry out as she covered her face with her hands: “How did he know, how did he know?” Is this what the pain of Purgatory might be like:...

Field of Dreams

The 15 Greatest Movies with Novels as Source Material

Not only are these great movies, but the novels on which they are based are classics, too. If you’re in a reading group, why not read the book, then watch the movie? I only chose novels, no non-fiction (i.e., A Beautiful Mind) or drama (i.e., Much Ado About Nothing). Movies are listed alphabetically. Ben-Hur – Novel by Lew Wallace The Bridge on the River Kwai – Novel by Pierre Boulle Field of Dreams – Based on Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella The Godfather – Novel by Mario Puzo...

Henry Fielding

What Is Reading For?

I saw this comment on a post in someone else’s blog the other day: My theory is, at least they’re reading. Who cares what they read? Just read, damn it. If the discussion were about kids who were just learning to read, I’d be inclined to agree–there is a point in everyone’s life when the best way to improve as a reader is to read as much as you can, regardless of the content (mostly–I hate Captain Underpants!). But the blog post was about reading in general, and...