literature

Books

Ulysses, by James Joyce

A book I like to teach

For 20 years I taught James Joyce’s Ulysses every year, but I don’t get to anymore—new university, new job description. I miss it terribly, even though my opinion of its quality wavered from semester to semester.

Books

Why Read Moby-Dick? by Nathaniel Philbrick

The title of Nathaniel Philbrick’s slim new meditation foregrounds the questions at the heart of every assignment made by every English teacher: Why read this book? Or that book? For that matter, why do we assign reading in the first place?

Books

The Secular Mind, by Robert Coles

This meditation on faith's fragility could not come at a better time. At once deeply personal and profound in its feel for how our culture settles into our hearts and minds, it puts to shame the sectarian champions of the culture wars, waged against "secular elites," and it confounds the academic experts who miss the religious resonance of our worldly experience.

Books

Literary Genius: 25 Classic Writers Who Define English and American Literature

In his introduction, Joseph Epstein offers a broad definition of literary genius: “Timelessness, grandeur of vision, originality of outlook—all these in concert and worked at a high power comprise genius in the writer.” Literary artists till some of the same fields of human experience that are staked
Books

Promised Land: Thirteen Books That Changed America

Few books have had sufficiently potent content to carry them into the hands of readers and imaginations of writers for generations. Jay Parini has selected 13 books published in the U.S.
Books

Preachers and Misfits, Prophets and Thieves: The Minister in Southern Fiction

In Martin Clark’s novel Plain Heathen Mischief, the Reverend Joel King has a problem that is endemic not only to southern preachers but to pastors in general: “The trick, Joel came to realize, was how to differentiate between heaven-sent persuasion and his own wish list, how to separate holy mar
Books

In the Light of Christ

Great works in the Western literary tradition are incomprehensible apart from Christianity. One cannot understand Dante, Shakespeare, Donne, Milton, Coleridge, Dostoevsky or Dickinson without understanding the Christian faith that these writers assumed, professed or resisted.