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  • The Secret Purpose of Machiavelli’s ‘The Prince’

    The Secret Purpose of Machiavelli’s ‘The Prince’2

    The most common view today of 15th-century Florentine philosopher-statesman Niccolò Machiavelli is that he was evil. Dubbed the founder of modern political philosophy, his evil reputation comes from his most famous work, The Prince, which openly endorses treachery, deceit, and backstabbing as political tactics. So, it’s no wonder that most people’s idea of Machiavelli is

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  • ‘The Great Divorce’: What C.S. Lewis Would Say About Modern ‘Love’

    ‘The Great Divorce’: What C.S. Lewis Would Say About Modern ‘Love’4

    The plot of C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce is straightforward. The narrator, who strongly resembles Lewis, boards a bus along with some others traveling from Hell to Heaven. Once they’ve arrived at their destination, the quarrelsome passengers disembark, become Ghosts, and find themselves scarcely able to bear the reality of their physical environment—even the unbending

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  • The Humanity of Huck Finn

    The Humanity of Huck Finn1

    Huckleberry Finn is no hero, though he is clearly a child on the cusp of adulthood. That perhaps is one reason I enjoy reading and teaching Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn every year. Like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Huck and Tom’s imaginary childhood adventures quickly become real. From pranking the ever-suspicious Jim at night to

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  • Alfred Tennyson, Male Friendship, and the Gay Appropriation of History

    Alfred Tennyson, Male Friendship, and the Gay Appropriation of History10

    It has become fashionable in academia and pop culture to claim that historical figures previously assumed to be heterosexual were actually homosexual. The trend has taken root to such a degree that the cases crop up with a dull predictability, and great authors seem particularly vulnerable to having their sexual identities rewritten by modern scholars.

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  • The Sort of Men We Need

    The Sort of Men We Need6

    A new book by Mark Helprin is like a surprise gift from St. Nick, so when I spotted The Oceans and the Stars: A Sea Story, a War Story, a Love Story on the “New Book” shelf of my public library, I snagged that gift, headed for the checkout desk, and opened it as soon

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  • Dostoevsky and American Despair: The Penalty of Nihilism

    Dostoevsky and American Despair: The Penalty of Nihilism3

    These chilling words, ringing with despair, come from one of the most striking characters in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s 1866 novel Crime and Punishment, Arkady Ivanovich Svidrigailov: We always imagine eternity as something beyond our conception, something vast, vast! But why must it be vast? Instead of all that, what if it’s one little room, like a

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