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Eva Brann

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You needn’t bring on yourself a dark night of the soul over your essay deadline, since you’ve already got what it takes to be an essayist, and certainly an essay-writer. Instead of agonizing, start early and savor the sweet freedom, the lovely leisure, to be fully at work, essaying...
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Mr. Ropoulos and I were talking in the St. John’s College Coffee Shop, and the subject of modernity came up. So he asked me to write a few pages for his issue of the Gadfly [ed., the St. John’s student...
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Dualisms: The Agons of the Modern World, by Ricardo J. Quinones (472 pages, University of Toronto Press, 2007) Dualisms stand at the very beginning of Western ways of viewing the world. Aristotle bears witness to...
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Homeric Moments: Clues to Delight in Reading the Odyssey and the Iliad (326 pages, Paul Dry Books, 2002) "Reading Homer's poems is one of the purest, most inexhaustible pleasures life has to offer—a secret somewhat too well kept...
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Modernity consists of perversions of notions drawn from Christianity; to be a modern means to be deeply enmeshed in them... The part of the title of this talk which I asked to have announced is "The Roots...
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The Raj Quartet is one of the longest, most successfully rendered works of nineteenth-century fiction written in the twentieth century. It has something War and Peace lacks: an evil presence of enormous pathos... The Raj Quartet by Paul Scott (1,032 pages, Everyman's Library, 2007)
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Applying imagination to politics can lead to political wish-fulfillment fantasies or to the enlivening of real communities from within... The topic "Politics and the Imagination" is at once larger and more restricted than "Politics and the Arts,"...
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It is for the soul’s health that we engage in inquiry; right action is the indirect, one might almost say, the unintended, consequence of thinking things through. Indeed, the old understanding of liberal education is that its very liberality consists in its being pursued for its own...
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There is a sickness, traditionally called melancholy, which is particularly at home in communities of learning such as ours. Its visible form can be seen in the engraving by Duerer called Melencolia Prima. Amidst the signs and symbols of...
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I'm uncertain of the joy of reading the Theban plays of Sophocles—the story is just too monstrous—but in accord with the awe. This translation conveys it... Sophocles: The Theban Plays, translated by David R. Slavitt (256 pages, Yale University Press, 2009)
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One of our most remarkable capabilities is our power of at once being and not being in a certain condition. It gives us a way to do justice both to self-avowed fictions and to other people’s truths... Our country’s three...
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Jane Austen's world is as merry as it is good. All the novels are perfect comedies—mirthful throughout and happy in outcome. Despite their brightness and lightness, these novels are in no way trivial—they are simply not concerned with those terrific follies presented to the...
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Plato's Republic: A Study by Stanley Rosen (432 pages, Yale University Press, 2008) Plato's Republic, Stanley Rosen says at the beginning of his book, is "both excessively...
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Moral imagination runs not incidentally but necessarily in tandem with a certain aspect of conservatism, what I think of as imaginative conservatism... The Moral Imagination: From Edmund Burke to Lionel Trilling, by Gertrude Himmelfarb (259 pages, Ivan R. Dee, 2006)