Category Archives: Literature

How French Intellectuals Lost Their Faith…

My new piece for Quillette… As the Socialist government of François Hollande slumps into obscurity, the favourites in this year’s French presidential elections are a liberal, Emmanuel Macron, a conservative, François Fillon, and a national conservative, Marine Le Pen. Amid … Continue reading

Posted in Europe, Literature, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Truth, Imagination and Imperfection…

An early essay in The Halls of Uselessness, Pierre Ryckmans’ elegant and enlightening collection of a prose, is a review of Christopher Hitchens’ The Missionary Position. That venomous tract, bearing a title no dignified publisher should have accepted, reminds Ryckmans … Continue reading

Posted in Books, Literature, Reviews | 4 Comments

Orwell Against Modernity…

The ubiquity of George Orwell in British and American culture has much to do with his being the secular saint of journalists. If the media was run by Mormons, Joseph Smith would be as famous. He embodies their romantic illusions … Continue reading

Posted in Books, Conservatism, History, Literature | 2 Comments

Getting Rid of Books…

I am on holiday in England, at my parent’s house, and am throwing out some of the old books that I had left with them. I have hundreds here: the result of a childhood and adolescence spent rummaging through charity … Continue reading

Posted in Books, Literature, Personal, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Superficialities of Style…

In “A Criticism of Life”, the first essay of his spirited, pugnacious and sometimes disagreeable collection In Defence of T.S. Eliot, Craig Raine presents a rousing and convincing case for literature as an act of “measured consideration” that provides “focus, … Continue reading

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Notes on Beginning a Novel…

You are not writing a novel if you are not writing. Books, like houses, are designed before they are built. Storytelling is no competition of speed. If your characters walked into the room would they have characters and would they … Continue reading

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The Sporadic Sensitivity of Philip Larkin…

The exposure of hostile rhetoric aimed at immigrants, women and the poor diminished the posthumous reputation of Philip Larkin. Such insults were unearthed from his private correspondence, and had no harmful effects on any of their targets, but modern poets … Continue reading

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