Albert Murray, The Hero and the Blues

The Hero And the Blues by Albert Murray My rating: 5 of 5 stars Albert Murray is, as the fashion journalists say, having a moment. His collected non-fiction and fiction/poetry have now been canonized by the Library of America (in volumes published in 2016 and 2018, respectively) and his insights on race, American identity, music, … Continue reading Albert Murray, The Hero and the Blues

Dante, Paradiso

Paradiso by Dante Alighieri My rating: 4 of 5 stars Here is what you've heard about the Divine Comedy: the Inferno, with its poignantly vivid tortures and its cacophony of wicked voices, is the most entertaining canticle, beloved of various and sundry; the Purgatorio, with its wistful focus on the lives and ambitions of poets and its … Continue reading Dante, Paradiso

Dante, Purgatorio

Purgatorio by Dante Alighieri My rating: 4 of 5 stars Allen Mandelbaum begins his introduction to his wonderful translation thusly:   For the Virgil of Dante's Purgatorio, "love is the seed in you of every virtue/and of all acts deserving punishment" (XVII, 104-105). To find one same source for all good and all evil is … Continue reading Dante, Purgatorio

Dante, Inferno

Inferno by Dante Alighieri My rating: 5 of 5 stars You know the story: a man in the middle of life is lost in a shadowy forest of ignorance and error, his path to wisdom blocked by impassable beasts. Then he is saved by the shade of the great poet, Virgil, sent to rescue the … Continue reading Dante, Inferno

Derek Walcott, Omeros

Omeros by Derek Walcott My rating: 5 of 5 stars Nothing like the literal—rather than the theoretical—death of the author to inspire one to read his masterpiece. As I wondered about Hart Crane, whom Walcott loved, what does it mean to read a poem, as opposed to a story or novel? What does it mean … Continue reading Derek Walcott, Omeros

H. P. Lovecraft, At the Mountains of Madness

At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft My rating: 4 of 5 stars Having read The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, what choice did I have in this Halloween season but to go on to the twentieth-century sequel to Poe's only novel, namely, one of H. P. Lovecraft's only novels, At the Mountains of … Continue reading H. P. Lovecraft, At the Mountains of Madness

Virgil, The Aeneid

The Aeneid by Virgil My rating: 5 of 5 stars While nobody wants to agree with the conventional wisdom, I have to say that The Aeneid lives up to its reputation as a half-hearted epic, strongest in those moments and with those characters that most pull away from the teleology of Aeneas's god-ordained journey to … Continue reading Virgil, The Aeneid