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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 »

Big Mullah

From the December 2017 Print Edition

2084: The End of the World by boualem sansal translated by alison anderson europa editions, 240 pages, $17 Sleep soundly, good people, everything is sheer falsehood, and the rest is under control.” So begins Boualem Sansal’s new novel, 2084. The author, an Algerian secularist, has . . . . Continue Reading »

Briefly Noted

From the June/July 2017 Print Edition

Exporting Freedom: Religious Liberty and American Power by anna su harvard, 296 pages, $39.95 Anna Su’s study of U.S. efforts to promote religious freedom abroad from 1898 through the present ends as it begins. In the Philippines in the early twentieth century and again in Iraq in the . . . . Continue Reading »

Five Grueling Days of Joy

From the February 2016 Print Edition

When the woman came for our daughters, we were crowded around a small round metal table, eating damp French fries and day-old bagels. It was early evening, and we’d had a long day, and now another stranger was giving my wife a piece of paper. Was this yet another petition to sign? A cool Catholic . . . . Continue Reading »

Scout's Grown Up

From the January 2016 Print Edition

Go Set a Watchman by harper lee harpercollins, 288 pages, $27.99 It might be the greatest American literary controversy of recent years: In summer 2015, ­millions of excited readers discovered to their great dismay ugly racial elements in Harper Lee’s new/old novel, Go Set a Watchman. But this . . . . Continue Reading »