Drunken Savages with Quill Pens

At one point in his Philosophical Letters on the English, in which he observed the culture and society of France’s rival across the Channel, Voltaire, that paragon of French neoclassical taste, summarizes Hamlet. This is 1733; Shakespeare isn’t considered some…

Night Thoughts (I)

Dickinson’s dashes and erratic capitalizations seem unusual or eccentric only to those who are unfamiliar with 19th century letter-writing. Byron’s letters, for example, are punctuated entirely in Dickinsonese, and similarly elliptical. It is no surprise to me that there is…

#poetinspaceproject

    We’ve sent animals and plants into outer space and observed them. We’ve sent scientists of various disciplines to run experiments—that is, to do their work in that environment and see what they turn up. But we have yet to…

When Goethe Met Napoleon

  During Napoleon’s 1808 campaign in Germany, he visited his favorite author, Goethe. The two giants of the age met twice, once at Weimar and once at Erfurt. Andrew Roberts’s new biography, Napoleon, devotes a paragraph or two to this…

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