The Devil and Hilary Mantel

By now, everyone who reads contemporary fiction will have heard of Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel’s acclaimed historical novels about Thomas Cromwell, the powerful advisor to Henry VIII who all but single-handedly disestablished the Catholic Church in England. Anathema to many . . . . Continue Reading »

What the Novelist Knows

The novelist and diarist Julien Green described in his diary a conversation he had with a French priest, a Fr. Couturier, about the novelist’s necessary complicity with evil: If he is a believer, the difficulty begins when he sits down at his table to write, for he is obliged to become each one of . . . . Continue Reading »

Love Is Barefoot Philosophy

Plato’s Bedroom succeeds by starting outside of religion, by unsettling all of us, showing us why our erotic lives are so important and problematic, so beautiful and at the same time potentially destructive, why love and death are never far from one another. Continue Reading »

Everyday Barbara Pym

In 1943, mourning the end of a short-lived love affair that would leave her (even months later) sitting “desolately by the fire shivering uncontrollably with an aching head and longing to be cherished,” Barbara Pym recorded walking by a pre-Raphaelite tomb and brooding a little. At this point . . . . Continue Reading »

The Dream-Child's Progress

“He’s dreaming now,” said Tweedledee: “and what do you think he’s dreaming about?”Alice said, “Nobody can guess that.”“Why, about you!” Tweedledee exclaimed, clapping his hands triumphantly. “And if he left off dreaming about you, where do you suppose you’d be?”“Where I . . . . Continue Reading »