Category Archives: Commentary

Donne’s A Nocturnal upon St. Lucy’s Day

Saint Lucy’s day is December 13. This was, in the Julian calendar, the Winter solstice and consequently the shortest day of the year (and thus the darkest). It is also the point at which, astrologically speaking, the Sun entered the sign of the Goat (in the modern calendar, Capricorn operates between…

Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol Serialized

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol was first published on December 19, 1843. He had written it at a feverish pace for six weeks beginning it in October of that year and determined that it should be published in time for Christmas. The Morgan Library has the original manuscirpt. The publication…

Donne’s Meditation XVII

John Donne Meditation XVII from Devotions upon Emergent Occasions (1624)1 The Devotions were written, for the most part, in December of 1623 when Donne was recovering from (and possibly still suffering from) a serious illness that began in the previous November. At the time, many in London were suffering and…

Celebrating Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week, 2015 runs from September 27 through October 3, 2015. The American Library Association describes it like this: Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to…

On the Reviewing of Books

[I now] suggest some hard-won guidelines for responsible reviewing. For instance: First, as in Hippocrates, do no harm. Second, never stoop to score a point or bite an ankle. Third, always understand that in this symbiosis, you are the parasite. Fourth, look with an open heart and mind at every…