72863265 / Benjamin Robert Haydon Painting
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72863265 / Benjamin Robert Haydon Painting

Wordsworth in the Month of May

William Wordsworth is a springtime poet. Even if read in a different season, his best ballads and sonnets seem fixed fast within the spring season — particularly, it seems, during the 31 days of May. Reading Wordsworth, you don’t come looking for autumn odes or lines composed on a January morning. No, if you could assign the … Continue reading

William Gaddis’ The Recognitions

The introduction to the Dalkey Archive edition of The Recognitions, William Gaddis’ first, longest, and most difficult novel, references a moment when the self-effacing author drew a picture of himself for a collection of essays. Appropriately, he left out the head. In a century that would have no shortage of “invisible novelists” Gaddis was not only … Continue reading

bosch

The Bloodiest, Most Stomach-Turning Book You’ve Ever Read

“All of European literature springs from a fight,” says a Classics professor in Philip Roth’s The Human Stain. He’s talking about Homer’s The Iliad, and what a nasty little story it is. A few lines from Book 4, during the first major battle scene between the Trojans and the Achians, offers a sanguine taste: Then fate fell upon … Continue reading

Wheel

A 4 Million Word Betrayal

By some estimations, Marcel Proust’s  In Search of Lost Time is the longest novel ever written. It is also considered one of the best. Though broken up into seven volumes, with the last three still rough drafts at the time of Proust’s death, the 1,200,000 word novel is lauded as a singular work of “daily epiphanies.” Christopher Hitchens … Continue reading

finish

What Novels to Read When Facing Death

Like thousands of others in the Boston area, I felt like the thin thread between life and death was more closely measured last month. My wife and I were near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, roughly 160 feet from where one of the bombs  would later go off. We … Continue reading

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