The 8 1/2 of Middlemarch

In 1962 Federico Fellini was trying to make a film about a man who suffers from a creative block. All he had were fragmentary images and a hazy notion of the story he wanted to tell. Frustrated and ready to quit, he suddenly struck upon an inspired idea. He decided to make a film aboutContinue reading “The 8 1/2 of Middlemarch

The Hammer and the Wing: A Meditation on Moby Dick

Of all the works of American writers, I love none so much as Moby Dick. There is a strangeness and a wildness to Melville’s great novel. Its gorgeous sentences roll over us like the vast ocean on which it is set, and its tragedy echoes in our hearts long after its narrative ceases to tollContinue reading “The Hammer and the Wing: A Meditation on Moby Dick

Tolstoy’s People

Many great works of literature are built on a central paradox. Like the Penrose steps, they appear to lead one way or another, depending on our perspective. Is Dante’s great poem an allegory or a realistic narrative? Milton intended his depiction of Satan to explore the deceptive nature of evil, but he created in himContinue reading “Tolstoy’s People”