The Reading Room

Why Bones and All Leaves Readers Hungry

Camille DeAngelis's Bones and All, now an award winning film directed by Luca Guadagnino promises a delicious repast for readers interested in horror. Cannibalism, wicked relatives, romantic tension, a road trip, a carnival and a sanitorium: the novel offers a buffet of classic Gothic fare.  Unfortunately, Bones and All is, like the meals of its protagonist, sadly undercooked. 


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The Screwtape Letters: From the Liberty Fund Rare Book Room

I will confess that I decided to take a look at Pierre Goodrich's 1948 copy of The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis because it's a book I love, and not because this edition is a particularly compelling example of the bookbinder's art. The letters between the senior demon Screwtape and  his nephew Wormwood are funny, sardonic, thoughtful, and compelling. Though I'm not a Christian, I was captivated by their insights and literary charms as a teenager, and remain so today. Screwtape seemed like a good antidote to a week of car repairs and other frustrations. I wasn't wrong.

On Geryon’s Spiral Flight: Fraud

Behold the beast who bears the pointed tail,who crosses mountains, shatters weapons, walls!Behold the one whose stench fills all the world!

Walt Whitman: Poet of American Democratic Individualism

Walt Whitman (1819-1892) surely has won the popularity contest as “the greatest American poet” and other accolades beyond counting. The Poetry Foundation writes that “Walt Whitman is America’s world poet—a latter-day successor to Homer, Virgil, Dante, and Shakespeare.”And yet, his theme is not political liberty, freedom, or individualism—although he refers to them. He is not the poetic scourge of despotic tyranny or mob rule. He rarely refers to any theory of government. Well, then, what of individualism? “I sing of myself…” But in the next line he seems to strike a note of almost metaphysical collectivism with “every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.”

OLL's November Birthday: Pierre Bayle (November 22, 1647-December 28, 1706)

November’s OLL Birthday essay is in honor of Pierre Bayle, a philosopher and theologian who exercised a profound influence on Enlightenment thinkers. His works regarding toleration, in particular, were at least as important as those of John Locke in his own time and for future arguments on the subject of toleration as well.