Ever think about all the art that has been lost? Beowulf comes out of an oral tradition of scops singing from a trove of texts. We have this manuscript, which fortunately survived the fitting-yet-sad fire at Ashburnham House, but what about all the other poems? Or what about all the ephemeral moments when a scop arranged … More Kept with Fonder a Care
On August 9th another bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, though Hiroshima was still burning. – Thomas Merton … More Thomas Merton on Hiroshima and Nagasaki
You know the movement to make traditional bad guys good in children’s stories, or to at least give their side of the story. When I was a boisterous oddly serious public school lad, I remember a story that had recast the big bad wolf as a hapless neighbor who only wanted sugar from his selfish … More The Big Bad Wraecca
Why do we enjoy tragedies? Why is there something almost pleasant about an elegy. We watch King Lear, knowing that the moment will come when he carries Cordelia out. We watch Macbeth to hear “Out, out, brief candle!” I’ve noticed that I enjoy Old English poetry and the works of Thomas Hardy because they enter … More Why Do We Enjoy Suffering in Literature?
We’re leaving Arthurian Legend and moving toward some Anglo-Saxon texts in the following weeks. The Celtic Bretons are pushed back as the Saxons invade. The White Horse that Tennyson uses as a sign of civilization early in the Idylls becomes an epithet for the Saxons, who are now “Lords of the White Horse.” But then … More The Demonic Book of the Bretons
Just like the fellowship of the Round Table, our time here with Arthur and his knights must come to an end. We have a lot more to talk about this summer, and I didn’t expect so much to come out of the Arthurian texts. We haven’t even made it to Hardy and Hopkins yet! But … More Arthurian Roundup
I’m pretty commonwealthy for an American. I’m a Victorianist, not an Americanist. I get excited about transatlantic interactions like the meeting between Whitman and Wilde in 1882. I even secretly consider Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, my queen as much as my little papist heart can handle. And I have to say, there might not … More Happy Fourth of July!