Comments and Reviews:
Autobiography of World Chess Champion Mikhail Tal
Mikhail Tal’s autobiography is in the form of an interview, with a “journalist” interviewer asking probing questions, followed by Tal’s answers. ...(continue reading).
A Man of Sorrow: The Life, Letters and Times of the Rev. Patrick Brontë 1777–1861
The book is an amazing achievement in that it captures the atmosphere of the early 1800s beautifully, while developing the complex character of Patrick Brontë with exquisite detail...(continue reading).
Kant and Critique: New Essays in Honor of W.H. Werkmeister
I attended this conference that is commemorated in this volume, where these essays were originally presented, at Professor Werkmeister’s “90th birthday celebration” and conference on April 5, 6, 1991, at Florida State University”...(continue reading).
Wright on Wittgenstein
Ludwig Wittgenstein was G. H. von Wright’s professor, mentor, and friend. After Wittgenstein died in 1951, Wright became literary executor and spent thirty years collecting, compiling, editing, and publishing the works. Wittgenstein wrote a lot, but published very little during his lifetime, so the task of the literary executor was...(continue reading).
The Secret Lives of Codebreakers
Bletchley Park was an old estate converted to the covert wartime campus for cryptanalysis...The first big break happens early in the book, “On a snowy January morning in 1940” (77), followed by Turing’s controversial and covert trip to France...(continue reading).
The Education of Henry Adams
The Education of Henry Adams is rich in personal observations, autobiographical anecdotes, political and philosophical insights, and nineteenth-century US history from the 1840s through the early 1900s....(continue reading).
Henry Adams' cultural travelogue Mont Saint Michel and Chartres
Adams' Mont Saint Michel and Chartres Adams takes us on a gothic travelogue through the intrigues of mediæval royal families of France, clashes in the cloisters of church hierarchy, power struggles in church and court, dark-age philosophers and poets telling stories captured in sparkling gothic stained-glass perfection....(continue reading).
I celebrate the 203rd birthday of Charles Dickens with this blog entry.
When you read novels by Charles Dickens, and then read true accounts of mid-1800s London and look at photographs of the period, you’ll find his descriptions match reality very closely. That is surprising to some who think Dickens’ descriptions are exaggeration and caricature to achieve a quaint and humorous effect.....(continue reading).
I celebrate the 206th birthday of Edgar Allan Poe with this blog entry.
Few writers have achieved Edgar Allan Poe's subtlety and expertise in the writing art. His syntax, wordplay, semantics, and narrative organization all stand the test of time. Poe suffered an obsession agonizing over the tiniest details of crafting a sentence and a story.....(continue reading).
I posted this article on William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday, 23 April 2014. He was born that date in 1564.
Shakespeare invented more than 1,700 words, most of which we still use today. He was most inventive with their dramatic and comedic effects. All of the following phrases come from just one single Shakespeare play....(continue reading).
Brian Murphy's magical immersion into a lost civilization through its mystical art of handmade Persian Carpets
Ancient art amid ancient cutlure—Murphy captures the interplay between the carpets’ sacred and artistic language with Persian poetry and spirituality. The book is nonfiction, every word is a literal account of the author’s travels, encounters, observations, and experiences, but written in an artistic novelistic form that is hard to put down....(continue reading).
T. S. Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
Eliot's Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock offers an old man’s perspective on lost opportunities, dreams devolving into triviality, shiny hopes rusting and crumbling, participation in the world fading with age...(continue reading).
John Cheever's Stories
Cheever's stories are both jarring and sparkling, artistic and surgical, detached and deeply involved. Cheever draws the reader into very close proximity to his characters...(continue reading).
Henry James’ Daisy Miller
Henry James did not merely conform an earlier work (“Daisy Miller: a Study,” Cornhill Magazine, 1878) to his later style (Daisy Miller, New York Edition 1909), but rewrote with different intentions and results....(continue reading).
Oscar Wilde: One Hundred Years After Hard Labor
Although for some fifteen years Wilde enjoyed celebrity and critical acclaim, he became anathema to the world before his death—and posterity has been only a little kinder...(continue reading).
What sets “artistic literature” or “classics of fiction” apart from “light fiction”?
The former is a richer, deeper experience for the reader, and a more disciplined writing process....(continue reading).
Look who is coming to dinner.
I invited ten guests to dinner next Tuesday at an old-fashioned Left Bank Latin Quarter restaurant, Le Balzar, founded in 1890 at the height of the Belle Epoque. The forecast is windy and raining, dark clouds and stormy. I added my reason for inviting each person in parentheses.
- Henry James (deepest psychological insight and famous as a conversationalist[Article on Henry James' "Daisy Miller: a Study"])
- Edgar Allan Poe (smooth talker with touch of noir)
- Shakespeare (massive imagination with a twist of genius, and "a way with words"[Blog entry on Shakespeare])
- Paul Auster (highly organized madness—what topics will be bring up?)
- Michael Brodsky (because X in Paris, the abstract angle)
- William Faulkner (sourthern sense and sadness with brilliant jabs of wry wit)
- Jane Austen (delightful social insights, sparkling perspicuity, unrivaled vocabulary)
- Honoré de Balzac (charm of Père Goriot and élan-vital of Eugénie Grandet)
- Gustave Flaubert (to give the rest of us a little Sentimental Education)
- Molavi Rumi (depth of wisdom and breadth of vision, must hear from this truly epic and subtle mind)
My novel published in 2001:
Link to book review: The Marriage Syndrome