Poetry and Chess

  I was perusing YouTube for new movie trailers, as I do sometimes in between cases at work. Confession: I never intend to go watch the flick unless it’s a new Bond or new Star Wars, since the trailers are usually…

How the West Inverted its Literary Values

In a true missing-the-forest-for-the-trees phenomenon, modern literary criticism has left unremarked, to my knowledge at least, the totally anomalous body of “great literature” that has come out of Europe and the West in the past three or so centuries. I…

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…

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