Author Archive

Sorrow and Persuasion

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
The quiet, steadfast heroine of Jane Austen’s final novel, Anne Elliot, has lived a life of much sorrow. After my mother’s death, the melancholy of her character offered me a safe way to experience the sorrow and loneliness that I otherwise kept at bay.

The Art of Dissent in Abigail

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
Magda Szabó’s 1970 novel is an unusual coming-of-age story—the willful heroine finds her place in society not by learning to comply with its demands, but by learning the art of dissent.

Facing the Jackpot with William Gibson

As we move toward an inevitable-seeming apocalypse, Rachael Nevins turns to three of Gibson’s novels, hoping to assuage her fear and sort through her disorientation.

Truth and Lies in Elena Ferrante’s Incidental Inventions

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
Over the course of Ferrante’s new essay collection, her commentary on the contingencies of telling both truth and lies shines new light on the relationship between narrative and the frightening reality she has elsewhere called the "frantumaglia."

The Unconventional Heroine

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
Though Catherine Morland may be neither Austen’s cleverest nor her wisest heroine, the story of how her naiveté is transformed to discernment is no less compelling, showing that understanding others takes a combination of good faith and imagination, tempered by experience.

Don Quixote or the Dangers of Reading Badly

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
Again and again the story of Don Quixote shows that idealism untethered from reality leads to nothing but real harm, and I find in it a cautionary tale for our age, in which misinformation and conspiracy theories proliferate.