Rare and Common Sense

Simon Leys:  Navigator Between Worlds by philippe paquet translated by julie rose la trobe, 720 pages, $59.99 It is a curious fact that Communist dictatorships were at their most popular among Western intellectuals while they still had the courage of their brutality. Once they settled down to . . . . Continue Reading »

Shock of the Real

Journey to the Land of the Real:  A Translation of Equipée by victor segalen translated by natasha lehrer atlas, 136 pages, $17.20 The death of Victor Segalen (January 14, 1878–May 21, 1919) was perhaps an enviable one. This is not to say that it was not also tragic: He was still quite . . . . Continue Reading »

Observe His Prayer

At the outset of Moby Dick, Father Mapple preaches to a congregation of whalers. His text is the Book of Jonah, and it stands out as one of the most enjoyable fictional sermons of all time. After God has assigned him the task of preaching repentance to the city of Nineveh, Jonah flees “with . . . . Continue Reading »

Caribbean Rhapsode

The great poet of the Caribbean, Derek Walcott, passed away at home on his native island of St. Lucia on March 17. It is hard to summarize his achievement. He wrote more than twenty books of poetry, most notably Omeros (1990), which transplants the Trojan War to the Caribbean fishing world . . . . Continue Reading »