Tom Joad and the Quest for an American Eden

By |2020-12-28T14:26:45-06:00December 28th, 2020|Categories: American Republic, Fiction, Literature, Mark Malvasi, Senior Contributors|

In the course of telling the story of a people and a country in “The Grapes of Wrath,” John Steinbeck offers an unforgettable evaluation of the American desire to enter the Promised Land. But Steinbeck’s garden is Eden after the fall dominated by the expectation of hardship, suffering, and death. In such a world, [...]

Flaubert’s Fictional Faith

By |2020-11-14T09:49:27-06:00November 14th, 2020|Categories: Beauty, Catholicism, Christianity, Faith, Fiction, Literature|

Although Gustave Flaubert professed to be a mystic who believed in nothing, in “A Simple Heart,” he gives us an unironic portrait of guileless faith that melds the hagiographer’s preoccupation with sanctity with the modern fictionist’s oblique incorporation of symbols. In so doing, the professed atheist purifies the cynical soul. Since doubt was carried [...]

The Best American Ghost Story? William Gilmore Simms’ “Grayling”

By |2020-10-28T11:11:44-05:00October 29th, 2020|Categories: Fiction, Halloween, Timeless Essays|

William Gilmore Simms When it comes to stories that make your hair stand on end everyone’s mind understandably goes to master of macabre Edgar Allan Poe. But what did Poe himself consider the best ghost story? Of William Gilmore Simms’s short story “Grayling, or Murder Will Out,” Poe wrote “it is really [...]

“A Single Life”

By |2020-10-23T13:38:24-05:00October 22nd, 2020|Categories: Books, Fiction, Love, Marriage, Religion|

Though written before COVID-19, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the agitated lead-up to the 2020 election, Daniel Goodman’s novel, “A Single Life,” resonates with the pain of increased isolation, racial tension, and alienation as Eli Newman treads the arduous road to romance and struggles with his observant Jewish life. A Single Life, by [...]

Going to Purgatory With J.R.R. Tolkien

By |2020-09-03T15:27:03-05:00September 6th, 2020|Categories: Art, Christian Humanism, Christianity, Fiction, Imagination, J.R.R. Tolkien, Joseph Pearce, Literature, Senior Contributors|

In his short story, “Leaf by Niggle,” J.R.R. Tolkien provides a much more colourful and comforting purgatorial vision than that afforded by Dante. Niggle, a personification of the Artist, recognizes the landscape as the perfect, living form of which his painting was but a shadow or a foreshadowing. J.R.R. Tolkien expressed a dislike for [...]

“Little Women”: A Gem of American Literature

By |2020-09-04T15:08:15-05:00September 4th, 2020|Categories: Family, Fiction, Literature|

Louisa May Alcott’s subtle insight into the enduring truths of human nature has been overlooked by academics, yet she deftly navigated the rapid current of change in her time to produce a valuable piece of literature that refuses to be relegated to the nursery as “just a children’s book.” Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women [...]

An Oaf’s Magnificat: On Kingsley Amis and “Lucky Jim”

By |2020-07-29T17:17:10-05:00July 30th, 2020|Categories: Books, Education, Fiction, Humor, Literature, Satire|

In 1954, “Lucky Jim” was a new planet: When Kingsley Amis wrote it, English satirical fiction had been for a third of a century a decidedly mandarin and highbrow business. Unlike his predecessors, Amis depicts representatives of the lower orders and the previously inaccessible university world that is not so much a garden of [...]

A Good Woman is Hard to Find: The “Racism” of Flannery O’Connor

By |2020-07-05T13:00:59-05:00July 5th, 2020|Categories: Catholicism, Christianity, Fiction, Flannery O'Connor, Joseph Pearce, Literature, Politics, Senior Contributors|

Some previously unpublished letters and postcards, only made available to scholars since 2014, reveal that Flannery O’Connor used “inexcusable racial slurs” in private correspondence. What, therefore, are we to make of this revelation of racism, however mitigated it might be by other factors, and how should it impact our reading and reception of O’Connor’s [...]

Abuse of Love: “Till We Have Faces”

By |2020-06-28T01:34:05-05:00June 27th, 2020|Categories: C.S. Lewis, Christian Humanism, Christianity, Fiction, Literature, Love|

In “Till We Have Faces,” the story of Orual and Psyche which Lewis weaves is so powerful because it presents us with the hope that even the greatest cruelty perpetrated by selfish love can be forgiven by true love. Picture the scene, cliché as it is: A young teenager’s parents have just refused her permission [...]

Beauty & Utility in Hawthorne’s “The Artist of the Beautiful”

By |2020-06-25T17:05:24-05:00June 26th, 2020|Categories: Beauty, Culture, Fiction, Literature|

Our modern lives need beauty, because, in the machine-like pace of modern life and the machine-like culture, there is not much beauty to be found. Nathaniel Hawthorne pointedly illustrates in “The Artist of the Beautiful” the cost of valuing the practical over the Beautiful. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story “The Artist of the Beautiful,” [...]

“Hungary”

By |2020-06-28T19:53:00-05:00June 26th, 2020|Categories: Character, Christianity, Fiction, History, Imagination, Religion|

History’s tyrants and thieves remain with us, and if things get very dark sometimes, then my best hope is to do the right thing in the light of His Grace. That’s all I can hope to do, passing on that Grace whenever I can. It’s strange how I can’t remember this guy’s whole name [...]

Walker Percy’s “The Second Coming”

By |2020-06-19T11:29:29-05:00June 24th, 2020|Categories: Books, Culture, Fiction, Literature, Walker Percy|

During the last third of the twentieth century, Walker Percy was a force to be reckoned with, as essayist, philosopher, vocal Catholic, and, especially, as a prize-winning novelist, often best-selling. (He was considered a first-class stylist.) Describable, I think, as “psychological gothic” (and Southern, though he came to hold no truck with Faulkner), those [...]

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