Best of ‘Novel Readings’


Here are some of my favorite posts from over the years–the ones I’m most proud of, or am most glad I wrote, whether for the satisfaction of the posts themselves or for the stimulation of the conversations they prompted.

On Books

How to Read a Victorian Novel

Molly Peacock, The Paper Garden: An Artist Begins Her Life’s Work at 72

Is Cormac McCarthy a Terrible Writer?

What Price Genius? Helen DeWitt, The Last Samurai

“They Were, Themselves, Specific”: Daniel Mendelsohn, The Lost

“A Life Entirely Through Objects”: Edmund de Waal, The Hare with Amber Eyes

Am I Making Excuses for Gaudy Night?

Your Book Club Wants to Read Middlemarch? Great Idea!

Writing and Life: Influential Critics

“On Some Book My Name Will Be Written”: Dorothy Dunnett, King Hereafter

“One Still Had to Imagine It”: Philip Gourevitch, We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families

‘A Tincture of Grandness in Simplicity’: T. H. White’s The Once and Future King

Fearless Pedantry: A. S. Byatt, The Children’s Book

“The Light of the World”: Nicola Griffith, Hild

“She is in love with life”: Winifred Holtby, Virginia Woolf: A Critical Memoir

“A Kind of Investigation Into a Life”: Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose

Confessions of a (Former) Non-Romance Reader; or, Everything I Know about Romance Novels I Learned on Twitter

“Women Catch Courage”: Carolyn Heilbrun, The Last Gift of Time

On Reading Madame Bovary

“Spill a Little Blood”: Hilary Mantel, A Place of Greater Safety

Guilty as Charged: Hilary Mantel, Bring Up the Bodies

Novel Readings? James Wood, How Fiction Works

“The Story of an Eye” Lynne Sharon Schwartz, Leaving Brooklyn

Rebecca Mead, “George Eliot and Me”

The Quality of Mercy: Edward St. Aubyn, The Patrick Melrose Novels

On Academia

Disciplining English: Brian McCrea, Addison and Steele are Dead

The Ph.D. Conundrum

Should Graduate Students Blog?

Blogging: Accept No Substitutes!

Standing in Chartres Cathedral Unmoved

Mark Bauerlein’s “The Research Bust”

On the Duties of Professors

Blogging and Intellectual Curiosity / Intellectual Curiosity: True Confessions Edition


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