Walker Percy: An Exchange

Joseph Schwartz: Walker Percy's Wise AnswersIt is unfortunate that Paul Greenberg’s appreciation of Walker Percy in these pages (November 1990) should have been marred by his misreading of The Moviegoer. Greenberg has fallen into the common critical error of reading that novel as if it were . . . . Continue Reading »

“J” in Bloom

The Book of J translated from the hebrew by david rosenberg interpreted by harold bloom grove weidenfeld, 340 pages, $21.95 The J of the title was discovered in 1711 by Henning Bernhard Witter, an obscure Lutheran pastor of Hildesheim, so obscure, in fact, that his role in the naming of this source . . . . Continue Reading »

Theology Through the Looking Glass

In Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, Alice has been having quite a run through the Garden of Live Flowers. “I declare it’s marked out just like a large chessboard!” she says. “There ought to be some men moving about somewhere—and so there are!” Alice gets excited by all . . . . Continue Reading »

1789: A Requiem

Perhaps no English poem was more frequently cited during France’s 1989 Bicentennial year than William Wordsworth’s Prelude, in Book XI of which one finds “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, / But to be young was very Heaven!” Anyone unfamiliar with the poet’s biography might reasonably . . . . Continue Reading »

Literature and Moral Purposes

It is tedious when a speaker begins by protesting modestly that he is inadequate to the task before him, or that he is the last person who should have been asked to discuss the theme of his address. We are apt to dismiss such wincing disclaimers as belonging to what Goldsmith called “the decorums . . . . Continue Reading »

Binx and the Malaise

I heard the news in late May as I was walking into the Sno-White Cafe here in Pine Bluff, Ark. Walker Percy died, Roger Coley told me. Roger is a Mississippi boy who’s now design editor at the Pine Bluff Commercial. Newspapers have titles like Design Editor these days. He stopped in front of the . . . . Continue Reading »

Talking About Writing

Conversations with Tom Wolfe edited by dorothy scura university press of mississippi, 296 pages, $29.95  Conversations with John Gardner edited by allan chavkin university press of mississippi, 310 pages, $29.95Because Tom Wolfe is a celebrity, there is every reason for him to agree to as many . . . . Continue Reading »

Solzhenitsyn and Modern Literature

For the advanced writer of our time, Diana Trilling wrote twenty-five years ago in “The Moral Radicalism of Norman Mailer,” “the self is his supreme, even sole referent.” The specifically American literary history of this immoralism, moral anarchism, or relativization has been remarked or . . . . Continue Reading »

A Man of Contradictions

Kazantzakis: Politics of the Spirit by peter bien princeton university press, 318 pages, $29.95  By the time he died in 1957, the Greek writer Nikos Kazantzakis had established himself as one of the major literary figures of the twentieth century. His extension of the Homerian epic. The . . . . Continue Reading »