Human Electricity

A Contemporary Allegory: Two Apache Sisters

Dina Polizzi’s first novella Two Apache Sisters and a Texas Gigolo was on my read-list for awhile, not only because Polizzi is my friend and neighbor but due to its marriage of magic, tarot, and its esoteric nature, which all interest … Continue reading

Masculinity in The Eye of the World

Masculinity is expected to be presented and challenged in traditional epic tales. Texts that include epic journeys of their protagonists, such as The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Odyssey, and The Bible, capture challenges that call into question man’s courage, strength, intelligence, love, dedication, and … Continue reading

Living in Henry James’s Other House

An affluent womanizer, Tony Bream.  The nicest, sweetest girl, Jean Martle.  A desperate lover abroad too long in China, Dennis Vidal.  The odd Rose Arminger. They all seem like characters from the famed game Clue.  Who was the murderer of … Continue reading

The Greatest Darkness in Sanshiro

Sanshiro by Natsume Soseki is a novel about Japanese masculinity in which Sanshiro, our hero, comes to terms with his role as a college-educated man from the country.  Sanshiro is a Modern(ist) hero who develops a heightened sense of self-consciousness as a … Continue reading

The Devil’s In Gogol’s Portrait

I have been enjoying — very much — reading a variety of works about portraiture (but who has time with a newborn baby?!).  My intention has been to write a series of posts about this theme in literature. While reading, … Continue reading

Ruth Hall and Homeopathy

Ruth Hall (British, 1854) is, as its author Fanny Fern is careful to note, a “continuous story” rather than a novel.  It is a work marked by a few covert postmodern gestures such as its vignette style, fragmented narrative, and its … Continue reading

Bleak House and the Excrement Product

Freud’s claim that excrement is ailment makes a tidy frame for the familiar portrait of Victorian London, or what Dickens in Bleak House calls a “filthy wilderness.” Excrement, defined in the OED as “that which remains after a process of … Continue reading

Mysticism in Woolf’s The Waves

Virginia Woolf perhaps does, as Walter Allen suggests, look to art to make order from chaos, substituting art for religion with the “mystic’s intuition.” Allen bestows Woolf with the agency of a mystic, assuming that intrinsic intuition is the medium … Continue reading

The Hunger Games: Starving for Love

My students this semester have been really open to the exchange of literature. Every week I await the handing-over of a new favorite book from a student as we make an exchange of books. Most recently, I have read the … Continue reading

Emma Courtney’s Memoirs of Stalking

Mary Hays is an eighteenth-century author obsessed with proving that she — like her romantic contemporaries — can use highfaluting language as an argument for virtue: her own virtue. Memoirs of Emma Courtney (British, 1796) is not an easy read … Continue reading

God’ Plot and Schizophrenia

Thomas Shepard’s autobiography in God’s Plot (American, 16th century, transcribed by Michael McGiffert) reveals his personal struggle with cognition in a world in which positive/negative, good/evil can not peaceably coexist. As an authority figure for Puritan doctrine Shepard purposefully constructs … Continue reading

The Devil Wears Nada

“Um,” says Andrea Sachs, that boring and undeveloped accessory of the “devil,” Miranda Priestly who is the editor of Runway fashion magazine.  “Um,” Sachs repeats as prominent literary people insist how eloquent she is.  “Um,” shouts Andrea Sachs as I … Continue reading