Christopher Isherwood, The Berlin Stories

The Berlin Stories: The Last of Mr. Norris & Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood My rating: 4 of 5 stars The Berlin Stories collects Christopher Isherwood's two novels of the 1930s set in Weimar Germany, The Last of Mr. Norris (1935), published in England under the superior title Mr. Norris Changes Trains, and the… Continue reading Christopher Isherwood, The Berlin Stories

William Shakespeare, Love’s Labour’s Lost

Love's Labor's Lost by William Shakespeare My rating: 4 of 5 stars This early Shakespearean comedy, dating from the 1590s, is paradoxically slight but weighty, thin but dense. That's no doubt partially owing to the lavish verbal resources it spends on such a simple plot. The story it tells is this: the King of Navarre… Continue reading William Shakespeare, Love’s Labour’s Lost

Dave McKean, Black Dog: The Dreams of Paul Nash

Black Dog: The Dreams of Paul Nash by Dave McKean My rating: 4 of 5 stars In one of the many brilliant parables that occur throughout English artist Dave McKean's 1990s graphic novel Cages, a character (who may or may not be a cat) briefly dies and goes to two flawed heavens in succession. Both… Continue reading Dave McKean, Black Dog: The Dreams of Paul Nash

Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus

Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe My rating: 4 of 5 stars I am neither a Marlowe scholar in particular nor an early modernist in general, but as far as I can determine—with the aid of the contextual and critical materials collected in this Signet Classics edition edited by the late Sylvan Barnet—there are three main… Continue reading Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus

Horace Walpole, The Castle of Otranto

The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole My rating: 3 of 5 stars Published pseudonymously in 1764 by an English politician, The Castle of Otranto is usually praised as the first Gothic novel. It not only set off a craze for novels about haunted castles and abbeys, about predatory dukes and scheming monks and fainting… Continue reading Horace Walpole, The Castle of Otranto

Samuel Johnson, Selected Essays

Selected Essays by Samuel Johnson My rating: 4 of 5 stars This Penguin Classics collection of essays by the great English critic and moralist Samuel Johnson is devoted largely to his periodical writing. In its introduction, the editor David Womersley notes that Johnson was known only (if at all) as an editor, lexicographer, and occasional… Continue reading Samuel Johnson, Selected Essays

Iris Murdoch, The Bell

The Bell by Iris Murdoch My rating: 4 of 5 stars The Bell is Iris Murdoch's fourth novel. I had never read the celebrated 20th-century British philosopher and novelist before and decided to start with this 1958 book because it is often said to be her first novel that is characteristically "Murdochian" and also her… Continue reading Iris Murdoch, The Bell

Alan Moore, Miracleman

Miracleman, Book Three: Olympus by Alan Moore My rating: 4 of 5 stars In the 1980s, Alan Moore, the most celebrated writer in the history of mainstream Anglophone comics, made his name by telling the same story four times. In Miracleman, V for Vendetta, Swamp Thing, and Watchmen, a commanding male figure, superior of intellect… Continue reading Alan Moore, Miracleman

Grant Morrison, Sebastian O | The Mystery Play

Sebastian O / The Mystery Play by Grant Morrison My rating: 4 of 5 stars On the one hand, the best audience for this book might be Morrison completists, those willing to hack through the wilds of the author's varied oeuvre to find rare specimens and paths not taken. The 1993 Vertigo miniseries, Sebastian O,… Continue reading Grant Morrison, Sebastian O | The Mystery Play

Grant Morrison and Chris Weston, The Filth

The Filth by Grant Morrison My rating: 4 of 5 stars The book is full of life—not like a man, but like an ant-heap. —Ludwig Wittgenstein, Culture and Value (trans. Peter Winch) Wittgenstein was a bit of a Tolstoyesque puritan in matters literary—Shakespeare was too wild and dream-like for him—so I imagine he did not… Continue reading Grant Morrison and Chris Weston, The Filth