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Articles from the Blog

Il Sommo Poeta: Dante Alighieri’s Life and Times

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Life and Times of Dante Alighieri

Along with Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, Virgil’s Aeneid, and Milton’s Paradise Lost, Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy is one of the indispensable epics in the Western Canon. Without a doubt, the Divine Comedy is the most important literary work produced during the so-called “Dark Ages.” But don’t think Dante’s work is just a historical curiosity that has no bearing on how we live nowadays. Dante’s words and images still have the power to profoundly move 21st century readers. Indeed, many Italians still call Dante “il Sommo Poeta” (which means “The Supreme Poet”) or simply “The Poet.” With an epithet like that, you […]

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Jane Austen: Great Britain’s Greatest Novelist

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Feature image for Jane Austen novels blog

The British novelist Jane Austen only published four novels during her brief lifetime. Despite the rather small oeuvre of Jane Austen novels (six major novels, including two posthumously published works), nobody doubts Austen’s status as one of the greatest writers in the English language. Portrait of Jane Austen, via Wikimedia Commons Indeed, Austen is one of those rare authors beloved by both critics and the general public. It might seem strange that people in our technophilic 21st century would be at all interested in Austen’s “novels of manners” set in Regency England. However, every time a new film based on […]

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John Steinbeck’s East of Eden Quote: Perfect and Good [Quote Graphic]

Classic LiteratureQuotesWords Wednesday
John Steinbeck quote from East of Eden

This John Steinbeck quote comes from his 1952 novel East of Eden. East of Eden by John Steinbeck Published in September 1952, East of Eden follows several generations of two families whose stories intertwine: the Trasks and the Hamiltons. Set in the Salinas Valley of Central California, the setting is as much a character as any person in the novel. The story begins on the ranch of Irish immigrants Samuel and Liza Hamilton. While their land is notoriously infertile, the nearby lands are lush and productive—and it’s these lands that purchased by the wealthy stranger Adam Trask. Adam moves to […]

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Words Wednesday: Viet Thanh Nguyen

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Viet Thanh Nguyen quote from The Sympathizer

For today’s Words Wednesday, we’re featuring a recent Viet Thanh Nguyen quote from his 2016 novel, The Sympathizer. The Sympathizer (2015) by Viet Thanh Nguyen Published in 2015, The Sympathizer is the debut novel of Viet Thanh Nguyen, a Vietnamese American professor of literature. The novel follows the story of an unnamed narrator who works as a North Vietnamese mole in the South Vietnamese army. After the fall of Saigon, the narrator is moved to Los Angeles, where he continues his spying work in the city’s close-knit Vietnamese community. Often called “a man of two minds,” the narrator struggles with this […]

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Victor Hugo: Everyone’s Favorite French Romantic

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Feature Image for Victor Hugo novels post_Hans Christian Andersen blog image

Even people who aren’t into literature know the name Victor Hugo. Although less critically acclaimed than fellow French novelists like Balzac or Stendhal, Victor Hugo novels continue to resonate with readers around the world. Thanks to the various stage and film adaptations of his most famous novels, the modern world is being introduced to this Romantic literary giant in a whole new light. Victor Hugo, via Wikimedia Commons For those interested in learning more about Hugo, read on! We’ll explore this great Frenchman’s long and turbulent life as well as introduce you to some of his finest works of fiction. […]

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Words Wednesday: Hilary Mantel

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Hilary Mantel Quote, Wolf Hall

Today’s featured snippet is a Hilary Mantel quote from her 2009 novel Wolf Hall. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel Set in early 1500s England, Wolf Hall is a historical novel that follows the rise of Thomas Cromwell and Anne Boleyn (whose rises, story lines, and real lives are impossible to untangle from one another) during the reign of King Henry VIII. Still famous today for his many wives and ordered decapitations, King Henry—and all of the other characters—are wonderfully humanized by Mantel in this novel. Although King Henry and his court feature prominently in this work, the focus remains on Thomas Cromwell. […]

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Five Eternal Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales

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Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales blog image

The Danish author Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875) is one of the most beloved children’s writers of all time. Andersen’s tales of mermaids, ducklings, demons, and emperors have been translated into over a hundred languages and have enchanted the minds and hearts of children around the world. Although children may not read Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales in the original form anymore, they certainly know of his tales through the numerous animated and live-action cinematic spinoffs. In this article, we’ll take a look at five of Andersen’s most enduring tales, examining each story’s unique lesson and subsequent film adaptations. Five Hans Christian Andersen […]

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Words Wednesday: Margaret Atwood

Contemporary LiteratureQuotesWords Wednesday

These quote from The Handmaid’s Tale is one of our all-time favorites, though there are many to choose from in this interesting novel. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood Published in 1985, The Handmaid’s Tale is set in a dystopian Boston, in which a theological dictatorship has taken hold. This new nation, called the Republic of Gilead, has forced young women into sexual and intellectual subjugation. Reading has been outlawed, women are forced to procreate with high-ranking party members, and Old Testament-inspired punishments are doled out in public to maintain order. The Handmaid’s Tale won several literary awards, including the Governor […]

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Herman Melville’s Moby Dick Quote: Maps and True Places

Classic LiteratureQuotesWords Wednesday
Herman Melville quote graphic, Moby Dick

Today’s Words Wednesday features a Herman Melville quote from his classic novel Moby-Dick; or The Whale. Moby Dick by Herman Melville Published in 1851 at the height of the American Renaissance period, Moby Dick follows the adventures of the mad whaler Ahab, captain of the Pequod. The novel was originally published in London as The Whale and then as Moby-Dick; or The Whale in New York. The book is dedicated to famed author Nathaniel Hawthorne. Although the novel was originally not a commercial success (it was actually out of print when Melville died), it has become one of the most […]

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Miguel de Cervantes: Spain’s Greatest Writer

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Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote

The great Modernist poet/literary critic T. S. Eliot once quipped, “Dante and Shakespeare divide the world between them. There is no third.” Although no literary critic would ever deny the importance of these two poets, there is an obvious “third” that Eliot failed to mention: 17th-century Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes.   Miguel de Cervantes, 1547-1616, by Eugenio Hansen, OSF, via Wikimedia Commons And Cervantes’s legacy rests on one legendary book: Don Quixote. This long novel is considered by many to be the first modern novel, and it serves as a major bridge between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Unfortunately, Don Quixote, like […]

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