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An Ordinary Life

The Old French word ordinarie, meaning “ordinary, usual,” derives from the medieval Latin ordinarius (“customary, regular, usual, ordinary”), which derives in turn from the classical Latin ordo (“row, rank, series, arrangement”). Originally, it had no pejorative . . . . Continue Reading »

Marriage of Genius

In the summer of 1970, Elizabeth Hardwick may have been the best nonfiction prose writer in America, just as Jim Hines was the fastest man alive and Joe Frazier was the heavyweight champion of the world. She was the queen mother of the New York Review of Books, one of its four cofounders and . . . . Continue Reading »

America’s Fat Knight

Harold Bloom, who died in October at age eighty-nine, was The Last Great American Literary Critic. The Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale, he wrote best sellers, appeared on talk shows, and collected honorary doctorates like lint. Bloom championed the Western Canon against its critics, . . . . Continue Reading »

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