How religious were the Victorians? If we focus only on the canonical poets, then maybe not so much. Alfred Tennyson finds himself staring at the paradox of a divinely-created nature that is “red in tooth and claw” and a faith that suggests we believe what “we cannot prove” (In Memoriam 56.15, Prologue line 4). Thomas Hardy … More Some Victorian Advent Reading
There is so much overlap between literature and liturgy. Sometimes a liturgy will take central place in a novel, such as the baptism in Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles or the wedding at the end of any marriage plot. Many liturgies themselves are a collection of literary genres, ranging from myth to poetry to exhortation, … More Through the Poetic Year: C. S. Lewis
Nothing is so purely the trace of the mind as writing, but also nothing is so dependent on the understanding mind. In deciphering and interpreting a miracle takes place: the transformation of something strange and dead into a total simultaneity and familiarity. This is like nothing else that has come down to us from the … More The Miracle of Reading
Today’s a special day for the dead. It begins a time when monks shield their faces with their cowls on processions to cemeteries. A time when we surround ourselves with the memento mori of skulls and ghouls and graves. But why hold such a day when we are alive and part of a culture that … More Why Bury the Dead?
Today, in the tradition of Pavia, is the feast day of Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius. That’s the Boethius. Living from around 480 to his execution in 524, he was a statesman during the rule of Theodoric and a contemporary with Benedict of Nursia (480-547). He is a liminal figure like these others described by Lorenzo Valla, … More Hail Last of Romans and First of Scholastics
I think we tend to have a one-sided view of academic blogging. We tend to call it an “outreach” project, envisioning the process as research leading to communication with a broader audience. In many ways, this is great. And as someone who took time in between college and graduate studies, I feel a deep solidarity … More How My Blog Readers Helped Me Write an Article
I love Christina Rossetti’s imagery of the line “my life is in the falling leaf.” Though I’m perhaps stretching the figurative language, I can’t help imagining the sunlight of her life sucked into the leaf as it fades, shrivels, and falls. Like Gerard Manley Hopkins’s “winter world” in “To R.B.” it so perfectly captures the … More My Life Is in the Falling Leaf