A Postcolonial Stranger: The Meursault Investigation

“My brother had to be seen through your hero’s eyes to become an ‘Arab’ and consequently die.” -Kamel Daoud, The Meursault Investigation. Albert Camus’s The Stranger gained an almost mythical reputation early on as a classic text highlighting the alienation and meaninglessness of human existence. Like most of his works, the novel takes place in French Algeria. InContinue reading “A Postcolonial Stranger: The Meursault Investigation

The Monster Under the Amusement Park: Arthur Miller’s Focus

In the opening of Arthur Miller’s Focus, Lawrence Newman awakens from a disturbing dream. “He was in some sort of amusement park. Before him stood a large carousel, strangely colored in green and purple patches. Somehow there were no people there. It was deserted for acres around him. And yet the carousel was moving. The brightlyContinue reading “The Monster Under the Amusement Park: Arthur Miller’s Focus

The Sound of Their Mourning: Homer and the Value of Literature

Writers create meaning as much through the material they exclude as by the tale they explore. In the twenty-fourth book of The Iliad, the poet ends his story of the Trojan war not with broken walls or burning towers but with a scene of reconciliation and human recognition. Nothing could be more dramatic than this extraordinary momentContinue reading “The Sound of Their Mourning: Homer and the Value of Literature”

Nihilism at the OK Corral: Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian

I grew up with The Story. We all know The Story, the Story of America. We might sum it up as follows. Fleeing from religious persecution, a band of hardy European colonists settled on the shores of the “New World” and eventually founded a great and noble nation. Because of their high ideals, the peopleContinue reading “Nihilism at the OK Corral: Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian

Reading Midsummer Night’s Dream in Winter

Sometimes the blogger must yield his place to the poet, and in recent weeks I’ve been hard at work on my current project. Because of this, I haven’t had the time to put together a proper post. But last month, weighed down by winter sorrows, I thought that I should give myself a little treat.Continue reading “Reading Midsummer Night’s Dream in Winter”

The Resurrection of Ahti: Reading The Kalevala

“Tell now, O Dreamer your dream, O stretched in the earth, your vision.” –The Kalevala The Irish poet William Butler Yeats once wrote of a dream he’d had in which his fellow writer Bernard Shaw visited him in the form of a smiling sewing machine.1 It strikes us as a peculiar image that aptly expressesContinue reading “The Resurrection of Ahti: Reading The Kalevala

The Centaur’s Beard: Realism and The Divine Comedy

“In the middle of the journey of our life, I came to myself in a dark wood where the straight way was lost.”1 These words open Dante’s epic poem, The Commedia. But even traveling the space of their few metrical feet, we find ourselves in an ambiguous realm. Since the journey is the metaphorical journeyContinue reading “The Centaur’s Beard: Realism and The Divine Comedy

Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera: A Review

Undocumented entry into the United States has been a hot-button political topic for the last few decades. In Signs Preceding the End of the World, novelist Yuri Herrera tells the tale of one such border crossing. However, he approaches this subject in a symbolic way that raises his story above the politics of the momentContinue reading Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera: A Review”

Death and The Epic of Gilgamesh

I had intended to return to this blog with an article about Yuri Herrera’s brilliant novel of the American border, Signs Preceding the End of the World. I still hope to review that work in an upcoming post. But death, that so kindly stopped for Emily Dickinson, has visited me, and I find my thoughtsContinue reading “Death and The Epic of Gilgamesh