Literature

A Writ Against Crit Lit

Featured image A couple weeks back we linked in our Picks section Power Line 100 honoree Gary Saul Morson’s terrific Commentary article on “Why College Kids Are Avoiding the Study of Literature.”  Morson, a professor of Russian literature, certainly has the authority to declare on this topic, since his lecture courses are the most popular and largest at Northwestern University, much to the annoyance of the peevish English department, which won’t assign »

Shakespeare: The Ultimate Dead White Male?

Featured image In my first public lecture at the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2013, perhaps no passage excited a more furious response from some members of the audience than this: It turns out that at a shockingly high number of universities—though not this one—it is possible to take a degree in English without having to take a single course on Shakespeare, which strikes me as absurd as taking a course »

Wodehousing?

Featured image This has to be a gag, right?  (If not, I’m going to start a gang immediately, which I’ll call the “Fink-Nottle Newt-sters.”) You’ve probably already heard about “Wodehousing,” a disturbing trend in which teenagers videotape themselves covering strangers’ homes with the full text of P.G. Wodehouse novels. . . In case you need a bracer, though, here are some basic facts about the illegal new craze: 1. P.G. Wodehouse did not invent »

Hath not a Timesman cultural literacy?

Featured image Joe Biden made waves when he referred to “shylocks” in a speech on Monday. He made waves because he didn’t realize the term was offensive to Jews, drawing as it does on Shakespeare’s problematic portrayal of the Jewish moneylender in The Merchant of Venice. The late, great John Gross devoted an outstanding book to the portrayal of Shylock through the ages. The book provides a humane literary and historical education »

Advise and Consent, In a New Edition: Buy It!

Featured image Allen Drury’s Advise and Consent is America’s most famous political novel, and deserves to be. It was published in 1959 and won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1960. The book’s action takes place over a week or so, beginning with the President’s nomination of Robert Leffingwell as Secretary of State. The Cold War furnishes the context, and as the Senate considers Leffingwell’s nomination, a Russian expeditionary force is speeding »

Time and Western Man

Featured image Pardon me while I intrude on Scott’s turf as Power Line’s official literary studies director.  Time and Western Man is the title of an obscure Wyndham Lewis book that I’ve always found impenetrable despite several attempts to struggle through it.  A more approachable book on the theme of time is Gary Saul Morson’s Narrative and Freedom: The Shadows of Time.  (Morson, the Frances Hooper Professor of the Arts and Humanities »

The year in reading

Featured image Scott has done a great job handling the year-end list department. But I thought I would add Tevi Troy’s discussion of his year of reading. Tevi offers praise for two books about the 2012 presidential race — Mark Halperin’s Double Down and Dan Balz’s Collision 2012. As much as I respect Tevi, I’m going to pass on these two works The 2012 campaign was too painful, and I could never »