“Day to be recorded with sunbeams! Day of light and love!”: Longfellow and the Weather

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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s weather reports document a lifelong fascination, even partnership, with the weather acting as the writer’s trusted, often fickle, companion and muse. The ritual documentation of the daily weather reveals Longfellow’s creative process and his failed attempts at separating his private life from the published prose and

Two Boston Commons at Twilight

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Susan Minot’s story “Boston Common at Twilight” shares its title with a Childe Hassam painting. Although the former does not directly mention the latter, there are many ways that the works are linked, and seeing these connections underscores the themes that run through the story and allows the viewer

Literary Silence in the Time of Pandemic

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From the Black Death to the AIDS epidemic, the history of literature is suffused with gaps. Such a history is a record of mourning. It’s a record of all the things that cannot be spoken while living with upheaval and grief.

The Distance of Home

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By leaving China, I demonstrated my freedom of choice and a quest for knowledge. Yet physical detachment only heightened my yearning for an emotional homecoming. In the decade since I first boarded a plane to the U.S., distance has lent me both a sharp lens and a soft gaze

The Angel in the Woods

Emily Dickinson knew that modesty and self-confidence, blended together, would disarm her reader and delight and mystify the people around her. Shirking conventionality offered her a modicum of freedom and enlarged her presence simultaneously; she was both eccentric spinster and white-clad angel, depending on how you saw her.

The Radical Politics of A Christmas Carol

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In 1843, Dickens read a report from the Parliamentary Commission on the Employment of Women and Children and was horrified by its findings. He resolved to write “something to strike the heaviest blow in my power” on behalf of those he saw as the innocent victims of the Industrial

Beasts of a Little Land’s Exploration of Survival

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Juhea Kim’s debut novel tells about the years of Japanese rule in Korea—years of sometimes brutal oppression, starvation, and resistance—and its demise and aftermath. Through the novel’s omniscient third-person narrator, we see what each of these characters is willing to risk or sacrifice, whether for survival or some other

The Poetry of Wislawa Szymborska and Alejandro Zambra’s Book Reviews

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Wislawa Szymborska and Alejandro Zambra use the book review as a vehicle to convey something closer to poetry. They content themselves to leave each review with a feeling or mood, rather than an appraisal of a work.

The Power of Sentences

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Louise Erdrich’s new novel is a persistent implicit commentary on the importance of words—and the communities forged by words—in the face of the traumas that haunt individual and collective lives.

The Singular Character of Tolstoy’s Alyosha

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Tolstoy’s treatment of Alyosha may cross over into objectification, but what makes Alyosha a singular character is the way in which he evades being objectified, something that can only be found when Alyosha’s feelings slip through how his father and master view and treat him.