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Category: Essays

Essays 1

The Mystery of JonBenét Ramsey

The notorious case of the murder of six-year-old child beauty-pageant winner JonBenét Ramsey in Boulder, Colorado, a case that Sherlock Holmes would have “solved” in a few seconds’ ratiocination (“No footprints in the snow around the house? No forced entry? A staged kidnapping, ransom note seemingly written by the mother?”)

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Essays 0

A Visit with Doris Lessing

Meeting her at last I felt almost faint—certainly unreal—turning transparent myself in the presence of this totally defined, self-confident, gracious woman.

Essays 0

Winter Trees

The poems in this final volume of Sylvia Plath’s work were all written during the last year of her life, and are therefore products of the same anguished, meticulous imagination that created the famous Ariel

Essays 0

One For Life, One For Death

Read together, these two excellent books cause us to ask ourselves one of the riddles of life: Why is the experience of one human being so vastly different from that of another? Why, in two sensitive, intelligent, gifted women poets should the energies of art be so differently employed? Where one discovers in nature a “presence” of “something else that went before” (Kumin in “The Presence”), the other discovers a helpless “blue dissolve” and shadows “chanting, but easing nothing” (Plath in “Winter Trees”).

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Haunted Sylvia Plath

This immensely gifted and ambitious poet, thirty years old, in a paroxysm of domestic unhappiness, emotional crisis, and physical breakdown, gassed herself in the depths of a bitter winter in London 1963, shortly after having written a number of extraordinarily powerful poems—the very poems, white-hot, venomous, self-lacerating, that would make her posthumous fame.

Essays 0

Uncensored Sylvia Plath

“I am made, crudely, for success,” Plath stated matter-of-factly in her journal in April 1958. Yet Plath could not have foreseen that her success would be almost entirely posthumous, and ironic: for, by killing herself impulsively and dying intestate, she delivered her precious fund of work, as well as her two young children Frieda and Nicholas, into the hands of her estranged husband …

Essays 0

Jocoserious Joyce

Ulysses is certainly the greatest novel in the English language, and one might argue for its being the greatest single work of art in our tradition. How significant, then, and how teasing, that this masterwork should be a comedy and that its creator should have explicitly valued the comic “vision” over the tragic …

Essays 0

The Tragedy of Imagination: Shakespeare’s “Antony and Cleopatra”

Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra shares with Troilus and Cressida the obsessive and self-consuming rage of the tragic figure as he confronts and attempts to define “reality.” But, more extravagantly than Troilus and Cressida, this reality is layered with masquerade; forms that are often as lyric as brutal shift and change and baffle expectation. The constant refinement of brute reality into lyric illusion is the work not simply of Antony, Shakespeare’s hero, but the lifelong work of Shakespeare himself.