“Dark Black” by Sam Weller

By |2020-04-29T17:03:09-05:00April 29th, 2020|Categories: Books, Bradley J. Birzer, Fiction, Imagination, Senior Contributors|

With twenty stories, accompanied by lush but tenebrous full-page images, Sam Weller’s “Dark Black” is a thing of haunting beauty and voluptuous terrors. Dark Black, by Sam Weller (254 pages, Hat & Beard Press, 2020) Most readers of The Imaginative Conservative know Sam Weller as the extraordinary biographer of Ray Bradbury and as the [...]

Robert Penn Warren’s “All the King’s Men”: The Agony of Will

By |2020-04-28T15:10:12-05:00April 27th, 2020|Categories: Books, Imagination, Literature, Morality|

All the King’s Men (1946): It’s as if Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989) wrote this classic American tale principally for college and university students. With a solid foundation in the liberal arts, they will recognize the philosophical and psychological theories that a central character, Jack Burden, has in mind when he transforms them into excuses [...]

Shakespeare’s Sonnets: The Secret to Immortality

By |2020-04-24T19:04:26-05:00April 25th, 2020|Categories: Imagination, Literature, Poetry, William Shakespeare|

William Shakespeare (baptized April 26, 1564, died April 23, 1616) is arguably the greatest writer in any language. Shakespeare’s classical poetry is not only one of the most exalted examples of what an immortal sense of creative identity can accomplish, it is a symbol of the artist’s immortality, and timelessness itself. As today’s coronavirus [...]

What Dante Can Teach Us About the Heroism of the Student

By |2020-04-25T17:01:50-05:00April 25th, 2020|Categories: Dante, Education, Imagination, Literature|

Part of Dante’s heroism in the “Divine Comedy” is his enduring pursuit of knowledge—he is full of wonder and longing for the truth. These qualities also make him an exemplary student. I have the great blessing of teaching at a tiny school in Wyoming that is truly devoted to liberal education. But for a [...]

Homage to Shakespeare

By |2020-05-14T17:08:10-05:00April 25th, 2020|Categories: Glenn Arbery, Imagination, Literature, Senior Contributors, William Shakespeare, Wyoming Catholic College|

The first spark of genuine engagement with great writers most often comes from a teacher, and the ever-fresh immortality of the great work has its ironic contrast in the aging and death of those who made the introduction. So it is for me with Shakespeare, who was first truly impressed upon my imagination during [...]

The Best Shakespeare Story Ever

By |2020-04-22T12:05:00-05:00April 22nd, 2020|Categories: Books, Christine Norvell, England, Imagination, Literature, Senior Contributors, William Shakespeare|

Marchette Chute’s “Shakespeare of London” is a delight to read. With a fluid narrative, Chute has produced a fascinating wealth of research in a most readable form. Shakespeare of London, by Marchette Chute (397 pages, E.P. Dutton and Company, 1949) It was a classic when it was first published in 1949, but it remains [...]

Antony and Eros: A Suicide Pact

By |2020-04-21T09:45:10-05:00April 22nd, 2020|Categories: Imagination, Joseph Pearce, Literature, Love, Modernity, Morality, Senior Contributors, Virtue, William Shakespeare|

There are none so blind as those who can only see themselves. This is the tragedy of narcissism or what the psychologist Paul Vitz has called selfism. The modern narcissist no longer looks at himself in a pool of water, or even in the mirror; he sees himself in countless selfies, the icons of [...]

Who Is Queen Mab?

By |2020-04-22T18:25:36-05:00April 22nd, 2020|Categories: Books, Fiction, Imagination, Literature, William Shakespeare|

In his collection of essays, Soliloquies in England, George Santayana dedicated some pages to a piece titled “Queen Mab” presumably after the enigmatic faery who is mentioned by Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet.[1] The essay turns into an analysis of British literature, which I take to mean that Santayana saw some form of greater [...]

Love in Time of Plague: Manzoni’s “The Betrothed”

By |2020-04-24T12:41:36-05:00April 21st, 2020|Categories: Books, Character, Coronavirus, Imagination, Literature, Morality, Virtue|

No book shows how little we care to find out the truth, how little we know ourselves, how even less we know others, how rumor, prejudice, and illusion, rule our world as Alessandro Manzoni’s "The Betrothed." Set in Lombardy in the 17th century, it covers the whole horror of a plague in whose deadly grip [...]

Tolkien: Entering Faerie

By |2020-04-24T15:23:57-05:00April 20th, 2020|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Fiction, Imagination, J.R.R. Tolkien, Literature, Myth, Senior Contributors|

What, exactly, is Faerie? While not quite the realm of the supernatural, it is the realm of grace (and its enemies), and it can be, even in its greatest beauty, dangerous in the extreme. It is also, by its very nature, sacramental, tangible, and incarnational. On March 8, 1939, just five months shy of [...]

Tolkien’s “The Lost Road”: Brilliant But Unfinished

By |2020-04-18T18:37:55-05:00April 18th, 2020|Categories: Books, Bradley J. Birzer, Fiction, Imagination, J.R.R. Tolkien, Literature, Senior Contributors|

An endearing story about fathers and sons—and almost certainly an autobiographical understanding of J.R.R. Tolkien himself and his own, mostly imagined father, as well as Tolkien and his son Christopher—”The Lost Road” begins with a son, Alboin, asking his father, Oswin, about the origin of his name. Though Tolkien had already written and published [...]

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