Literature

A Nobel for Bob Dylan

Featured image Today the Nobel Committee announced that it is awarding this year’s Prize in Literature to Minnesota native son Bob Dylan (“for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”). When we celebrated Bob Dylan’s 75th birthday on Power Line this past May, I observed that he is first and foremost an astounding songwriter. He somehow absorbed the folk, rock, country and blues traditions as a precocious young »

To the person sitting in darkness

Featured image We have lost the power at home twice this week, each time for several hours overnight. It seems to happen every time we have a serious summer thunderstorm. The utter silence and lack of light tend to disturb my sleep. We should have a generator, but we don’t. As I sat the dark thinking about the powerlessness, the title “To the person sitting in darkness” came to mind. Who wrote »

There’s something about Bill

Featured image As part of its celebration of “400 years of Shakespeare” (it is 400 years since Shakespeare’s death), the Folger Shakespeare Library has mounted the exhibit America’s Shakespeare. Edward Rothstein reviews the exhibit and meditates on the phenomenon it represents in “Our British founding father.” “[W]ith an extended and fervent embrace,” Rothstein writes, Shakespeare “was adopted, from the beginning, as one of our own.” He observes: The spirited displays in “America’s »

Bullish on the Bard

Featured image Today is the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare (it may also be his birthday; his standard biographies merely say he was baptized on April 26, with his exact birthday uncertain), and while the Left has been trying to kill off Shakespeare for a long time now, they haven’t succeeded. I argue that the best insights on Shakespeare today are to be found from . . . conservative political »

No Gay Times for Gay Talese

Featured image I’ve often wondered why Margaret Thatcher isn’t a major feminist icon. Actually, I don’t wonder that for a second. We all know why. Back in the 1980s leading feminists called her (and Jeane Kirkpatrick, too) “female impersonators.” Of course, that term would today be banned as insensitive to transgender self-identifiers. (Heh.) But it confirmed the obvious, which is that “feminist” is just a synonym for “leftist.” This meditation was brought »

Annals of Liberal Illiteracy

Featured image There’s a fuss going on Stanford right now about the proposal to bring back a serious requirement for the study of Western Civilization—you know, the lineage of ideas that brought us things like freedom, prosperity, and . . . Stanford University. Okay, two out of three ain’t bad, so maybe the radicals are ironically correct. “Up to a point, sir,” if you know the reference. Which brings us to today’s »

To a friend whose work has come to nothing

Featured image To take a break from the uniformly bad news of politics and the world, I watched the Miss Universe pageant last night. Like all the rest of the news, it turned into painful viewing. It struck me that the event provided an almost unbelievable illustration of what Aristotle explicated in his Poetics as peripeteia (sudden reversal of circumstances) in Greek drama. Peripeteia is what excites terror and pity among the »

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 »