Literature

Woke ballet at Princeton, Part Three

Featured image The Princeton University Ballet, a student-run ballet company, has gone full woke. So has Princeton’s EDI in the Arts Circuit, which apparently is tied to the University’s administration. Responding to my first post on the subject, a friend called my attention to this passage from Kurt Vonnegut’s 1961 short story “Harris Bergeron.”: THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren’t only equal before God and the law. »

Orwell to go Orwellian?

Featured image I remember when 1984 rolled around, with the Cold War still going in high gear (in fact higher than ever after Reagan correctly called the Soviet Union “an evil empire”), and it was natural that the literary world would mark the occasion with a callback to George Orwell’s 1984. The anti-anti-Communist left at the time labored mightily to downplay or distract from Orwell’s anti-Communist message, offering convoluted takes about how »

Barren Indeed

Featured image I’m a regular reader of Barron’s Magazine, because it’s one of the better financial publications around, though they have been going a bit wobbly lately on climate change and other corporate wokery. But then there’s Barren Magazine, a tiny literary magazine I never heard of that specializes in what it calls “introspective lit.” Their “About” page reassures is that they are on the side of the true and the good: »

Locked down with Shakespeare

Featured image Paul Cantor is Clifton Waller Barrett Professor of English at the University of Virginia and author of Shakespeare’s Roman Trilogy: The Twilight of the Ancient World. He is also a brilliant student of American popular culture, as documented in three books that compile his essays on the subject. Professor Cantor is the author, most recently, of the Modern Age essay/review “Shakespeare and classical antiquity,” just posted by the Intercollegiate Studies »

Jeffrey Hart: An appreciation

Featured image Steve Hayward writes this morning to convey the sad news that former Dartmouth English professor Jeffrey Hart has died. The news comes via Professor Hart’s National Review colleague Jay Nordlinger, who writes: “He was one of the brightest, most learned men I ever knew. Nationally, he was known for his political writing (and his tennis commentary!). But he is also a legendary professor of English. A rara avis.” Professor Hart »

Bigotry on the Prairie?

Featured image Today’s Liberal Outrage is the American Library Association’s announcement that it is renaming the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, which is given annually to the author of an outstanding children’s book: A division of the American Library Association voted unanimously Saturday to strip Laura Ingalls Wilder’s name from a major children’s literature award over concerns about how the author referred to Native Americans and blacks. It’s been a long time since »

The Volunteer Auxiliary Thought Police

Featured image That’s what Steve Sailer calls them, only they aren’t volunteers anymore. They are asking to be paid. Who are they? Members of Politically Approved Minority Groups who offer to read novels in manuscript to identify any non-conforming elements. Sailer starts with an article in Slate: Is My Novel Offensive? How “sensitivity readers” are changing the publishing ecosystem—and raising new questions about what makes a great book. These advising angels—part fact-checkers, »

What Do Fanny Hill and King Lear Have In Common? [with comment by Paul]

Featured image Fanny Hill was the first pornographic novel written in English. It was authored by John Cleland (who, as far as I know, never wrote anything else) and published in 1748. Among other things, Fanny Hill is famous for the fact that it doesn’t contain any bad words. Pornographers were a lot more inventive in those days. Nevertheless, it was, in former centuries, one of the most frequently banned books. I »

The Yarbrough citation

Featured image Dealing in our own way with Obama’s long goodbye, John and I have drawn on the twisted catalog of Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks to ask: “How can I miss you when you won’t go away?” We won’t miss President Obama if he ever goes away, but the point remains. Professor Jean Yarbrough is Gary M. Pendy, Sr., Professor of Social Sciences and Professor of Government and Legal Studies »

When Shakespeare won’t do

Featured image Students at Penn removed the dominating portrait of Shakespeare from the wall of the Heyer Staircase in Fisher-Bennett Hall and replaced it with that of self-described “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet” Audre Lorde. The Weekly Standard’s Scrapbook tentatively describes Lord’s poetry as “agitprop,” which is about as good a one-word description as any. “Unreadable” is probably too generic. After removing Shakespeare’s portrait, the students deposited it in the office of »

Cry Havoc!

Featured image When you point out on a college campus, as I have done on a couple of occasions (also here), that it ought to be regarded as a scandal that at many liberal arts colleges you can now take a degree in English without having to take a single class in Shakespeare, it often provokes a heated reaction. But then you come across a story like the one below, and you find a »

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 »