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Homer’s Reach

From the March 2024 Print Edition

The Iliad is an ancient epic poem whose events occur over the course of fifty days in the ninth year of a decade-long war between the Greeks and the Trojans. It begins with Achilles, first among Greek fighters, offended by the decision of the Greek king Agamemnon to take Achilles’s war . . . . Continue Reading »

Zero Gravity History

From the October 2023 Print Edition

Simon Sebag Montefiore’s The World: A Family History of Humanity presents three burdens. The first: At 1,300 pages, the book in hardcover weighs several pounds. The second: its cachet. I read books in public all the time and no one ever notices. But in an airport business lounge (I had a . . . . Continue Reading »

Nordic Penelope

From the April 2021 Print Edition

Oh, to be married in the Middle Ages! Your parents would select your spouse. Relatives and the local lord would consider and approve the choice; the clergy would do likewise and bless the bond before God and family, parish and town. You’d know what to expect about the rest of your life because . . . . Continue Reading »

Papa Don’t Preach

From the January 2021 Print Edition

For about three years, I read fiction on my phone. I’d never done so before, and I haven’t since. I had to, during this period, because my wife and I were working our way through “The Neapolitan Quartet,” a series of novels by the Italian writer Elena Ferrante. The books were so readable . . . . Continue Reading »

Wonder Is Critical

From the January 2019 Print Edition

I finished teaching a university course in faith and ideas a little while ago by administering individual oral exams to forty first-year students. The exams took place in a hotel bar overlooking a volcanic lake. The pope’s summer palace shone in the distance, and the Mediterranean gleamed . . . . Continue Reading »