Johnson’s Life Of Boswell

It sometimes happens that a man of no particular merit or demerit finds a cause and makes it his ticket to everlasting fame. Thus it was with James Boswell whose magnum opus was the massive 800 page biography he produced of one of England’s literary giants, Samuel Johnson. Johnson had a great gift for words and gab, and Boswell dogged his footsteps, jotting down everything Johnson had to say. In consequence, the biography alternates...

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A Dormitive Virtue

Often, when I check to see what time it is, I discover it is precisely 1, 2, 3, 4, …12 o’clock. I find that strange. The odds against that seem to be 59-1 but I think the 1,2,3, 4….phenomenon occurs at least 25% of the time. Perhaps it occurs even as high as half the time. Why should that be? People have told me we have internal clocks but that explanation gets us nowhere when I consider I am not looking for a particular time...

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On A Quaint Literary Idea

This past week, a friend of mine asked me what I thought was “THE GREAT American Novel.” She took me by surprise and I mumbled and bumbled an answer. I think I said “Either The Scarlet Letter or Moby Dick.” In turn, she opted for The Great Gatsby. In retrospect, I think each of our answers was queer because something is wrong with the very notion of THE GREAT American Novel. I may do my friend an injustice. She...

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Thomas Hardy The Clear

It is not unreasonable to doubt that Thomas Hardy is the greatest novelist/poet who ever lived even though, off the top of my head, I can’t name any contenders. Surely, the onus of proof lies with those who are skeptical. I promise to think about it but, first, I need to revisit a couple of his novels: JUDE THE OBSCURE and RETURN OF THE NATIVE and one or two collections of Hardy’s poetry. I have read only two or three short Hardy...

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Joshua At The Battle of Gettysburg

The Battle of Gettysburg was the bloodiest and most pivotal battle of the American Civil War and it decisively turned the war in the Union favor. Joshua Chamberlain, a man of staggering ability as a diarist who would go on to be president of Bowdoin College and governor of Maine offered this (SG: abbreviated) account of the battle. “But we can hold our spirits and our bodies so pure and high, we may cherish such thoughts and such ideals,...

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The Fault, Dear Brutus, Lies Not With The Stars, But In Ourselves

I can’t remember much about the title sentence any longer, (I am not even sure I have it right), but I know it was Cassius trying to inveigle Brutus into his murderous plot. So is it with all of us. We want companionship in evil or just in our lack of understanding. How often have I heard people decrying the accomplishments of Shakespeare for no better reason than that they don’t like what he wrote. They may as well denounce lemon...

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