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 »

I Like It at Home

“All my brothers went West and took up land, but I hung on to New England and I hung on to the old farm, not because the paint mine was on it, but because the old house was on it—and the graves.” That’s what Silas Lapham tells a Boston journalist in the opening scene of William Dean . . . . Continue Reading »

Empson in the East

The Face of the Buddhaby william empsonedited by rupert arrowsmithoxford, 208 pages, $49.95 William Empson (1906–1984) was not, as he is frequently said to have been, an “important critic,” but only because there is no such thing. By the same token, neither was he a unicorn, a square circle, . . . . Continue Reading »