Author Archive

Henry James on Honoré Daumier

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For an artist whose career ended with little recognition, the yearly international exhibitions featuring Daumier’s work attest to the staying power of his vision. For James, this embodies the filial connection between the artist and the novelist—with all the love and strife that implies.

The Enigmatic Figure of the Midwife in Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders

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The midwife has often been an ambiguous figure both in the history of literature and within the history of labor.

The Lives of Others in Tales of Two Londons: Stories from a Fractured City

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What is to be made of the myriad tales collected in this anthology, some of them connected by geographical proximity and nothing more? Part of the effect is to render the familiar unfamiliar.

Van Gogh’s Letters

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Even before he began to devote himself to painting, Van Gogh was gathering layers of experience that provided a way of seeing far beyond the inspiration works of painters he encountered provided him.

The Dark Side of the Wild

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How does the idea of the “wild” manifest itself in the lives, and ways of living, that contemporary America remains both fascinated by and deeply ambivalent about?

The Internal Landscape in James Wood’s Upstate

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If a critic can write through a text, in what sense, then, does the novelist write through life?

An Artist’s Journey in The American Painter Emma Dial

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Samantha Peale’s 2010 novel opens with a celebrated painter standing alongside his regular, slightly awe-struck collectors, directing his assistant as she finishes a moody seascape for him.

A Return to Main Street

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Sinclair Lewis’s novel offers no solutions to current social ills, nor does fiction serve such ends well. Fiction may, on the other hand, meditate on the romantic and the realistic to reveal insight into individual minds seeking out the world to find the best way to live in it.