A literary blog for humans that explores books, poems, and short stories accross time and space, by topic.
When I was an undergraduate with an interest in studying Victorian literature, a professor once asked me how much Trollope I had read. I scratched my head: Trollope? Never heard of him. The professor explained that Anthony Trollope used to be the backbone of nineteenth-century literature courses, so I, of course, made Trollope the focus […]
Finally, I have read my first Doris Lessing novel. I admit, it may not have been the best one to wet my feet. The Four-Gated City (British, 1969) is the final book of a five-book series called the “Children of Violence.” I didn’t read the first four but only the last. I felt as if I […]
That I have named this very blog after Marie Corelli — and her “electric creed” in the novel A Romance of Two Worlds — speaks to a fact that I don’t really need to reveal: I am in love with Marie Corelli. The pleasure that reading her books brings me is one that can only […]
William Blake, in many ways, polarizes innocence and experience in his book of poems Songs of Innocence and of Experience. His exploration of these are literally separated by a frontispiece and title page. Moreover, he marks the primary differences between innocence and experience by showing the evolution of poems — “Infant Joy” in the first […]
A couple days ago I took some students in my class to see the latest cinematic attempt to bring Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel Jane Eyre to the public. At the opening scene of Cary Fukunaga’s film my heart sank down into my heels and then, from there, I only stomped the ground with a red […]
When I was called out for teaching some provocative contexts in my “Strange Children” course this quarter, my supervisor came to my defense by saying, “Well, it’s not like you’re teaching Death in Venice, or anything.” I had heard of Thomas Mann’s novella — and really enjoyed reading the obscure The Transposed Heads, which I […]
Victorians wrote love stories about work. Labor was the answer to almost every question. Carlyle’s hero in Sartor Resartus cries, “Produce! Produce! […] Work while it is called To-day; for the Night cometh, wherein no man can work.” For Victorian authors and artists, work is either placed on a pedestal as an emblem of progress, […]
Joao Guimaraes Rosa’s 1956 novel Grande Sertao: Veradas (Translated in English by James L. Taylor and Harriet De Onis as The Devil to Pay in the Backlands) brought me back to my The Devil is a Woman series, from which I have taken a small break. The Devil to Pay is the first Brazilian novel […]
My childhood friends must grimace and wince when they hear “Anne of Green Gables.” During sleepovers I would make them watch all eight hours of the PBS miniseries that was based on Lucy Montgomery’s very long fiction works. The first time that I watched it, I was in love. With everything. Anne. Prince Edward Island. […]
Today one of my soon-to-be students for my Spring quarter course called “Strange Children” mentioned that the course description reminded her of Mark Ryden‘s art. I, of course, looked into his work directly. Indeed, Ryden’s oeuvre is almost entirely dedicated to depictions of children — mostly prepubescent girls — and nature. The children are grotesque […]
If Patrick Bateman in Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho (American, 1991) doesn’t actually sadistically kill numerous women, children, and maybe a few men, then this novel is possibly the saddest story ever told. Many years ago I watched Christian Bale play Bateman in the film American Pscyho but for some reason while I do remember the […]
William Hazlitt is notorious for writing criticism that doesn’t hold back. A kind of rogue who received a large number of threats for his blatant opinions concerning authorship and culture, Hazlitt ruminated about the darker aspects of human experience. In his best-known work, The Spirit of the Age (British, 1825), he appears more tame than in […]
Marie Corelli is one of the most undervalued Victorian authors, yet she was as prolific — and as popular — as Dickens in her own time. Her novels drip with supernaturalism, mesmerism, and science fiction: they’re exciting and bizarre. Novels such as Ardath: A Story of a Dead Self, The Sorrows of Satan, or Wormwood […]
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