From Rudolph to Bethlehem

Even though Rudolph had been around as a story book character well before 1949, Gene Autry’s recording in that year of the musical version of the saga made the red-nosed reindeer a standard member of the Yuletide cast in popular culture. I was a nine-year-old at the time and, having successfully . . . . Continue Reading »

​Praise Be to You, Lord

The First World War lingers in the memory as humanity’s first encounter with industrialized killing on a mass scale. New weapons of the machine age obliterated forests, villages and fields—an entire way of life. This new type of war also deeply shaped the thinking of men who experienced it . . . . Continue Reading »

Who Were the Inklings?

The name they chose for their group was, J. R. R. Tolkien self-effacingly recalls, “a pleasantly ingenious pun . . . suggesting people with vague or half-formed intimations and ideas plus those who dabble in ink.” The description conjures a picture of “donnish dreaminess,” a rag-tag band of tweed-clad writers who met for a pint from time to time. Continue Reading »

Auden and the Limits of Poetry

By the mid-1930s, W. H. Auden was the most famous and most widely imitated young poet in England. His verse was brilliant, ironic, often funny, wide-ranging in its reference—equally at home in the worlds of Anglo-Saxon heroic poetry and the technology of mining—and sometimes impenetrably . . . . Continue Reading »