I’ve got lots to talk about this week. Lots being a euphemism for too much, and to talk about being a euphemism for fail to write about. I re-read — the time elapsed between initial and re-reading here is almost seven years — David Foster Wallace’s Girl with Curious Hair

The Broom of the System is the first novel by David Foster Wallace. The novel began to take shape when Wallace was still an undergraduate at Amherst College. Having completed his first thesis — a monograph criticizing Richard Taylor’s influential essay “Fatalism” — Wallace then turned his attentions toward crafting…

Raymond Queneau’s Exercises in Style is 1947 text about the following story. A man with a long neck and silly hat is being jostled on a crowded bus. Believing that his neighbor on the bus is intentionally stepping on his toes, he accuses the man of ill intent. When a…

The Consolation of Philosophy is a sixth-century treatise written by the Roman politician and philosopher Boethius during his imprisonment on the orders of Theodoric the Great. Boethius was born to a patrician family in Rome sometime around 480. His grandfather had been a Roman senator and his father a Roman…

Roland Barthes’ essay “The Death of the Author” has attained a status seldom accorded to literary criticism: popularity. Sadly, its popularity rests less on the content of the essay and more on the spontaneous idea of the essay’s content generated in the mind by the essay’s title. One disadvantage of…

Let us resume our summary of The Castle of Otranto and the life of Horace Walpole. The son of British statemen Robert Walpole — widely considered the first Prime Minister of England — Horace Walpole spent much of his life vacillating between politics and culture. Or, perhaps more accurately, politics…

This week, I finished reading John Hollander’s The Figure of Echo. It is with a summary of the remainder of that book that we will begin this week’s reading review. Hollander begins his chapter “Echo Metaphorical” by reiterating the distinction between quotation, allusion, and echo. While quotation includes the body…

I’ve John Hollander’s The Figure of Echo: A Mode of Allusion in Milton and After. It is a book-length essay on the life of E/echo in Western literature. Each chapter focuses on echo in a particular guise or form. Hollander begins with echo as a literal, auditory phenomenon, noting that…

I’m thinking I’ll make this newsletter one that comes out the final Thursday of every month. Frankly, I rarely feel there’s enough literary news in a two-week period for me to write a newsletter that’s not just outrightly plagiarizing the New York Times Books section for the week. The result…

This week I have Erich Auerbach’s classic book of literary criticism, Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature. Let’s resume where we left off. In Rabelais, we see the treatment of a contemporary theme: that of the discovery of a new world and “all the astonishment, the widening horizons…

Michael Ducker

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store