Joseph Frank’s Dostoevsky: The Years Of Ordeal, 1850-1859

When we last left off, after the first volume of Joseph Frank’s multi-volume account of the life and times of Fyodor Dostoevsky, our author was on the verge of arrest by the tsar’s secret police for his involvement in an […]

J.M. Coetzee’s The Schooldays Of Jesus

The Schooldays of Jesus was, for me, an impulse buy, purchased purely on the strength of my esteem for J.M. Coetzee, whom I regard as one of the greatest living fiction writers, but my enthusiasm – at least in this […]

Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Idiot

My Dostoevsky infatuation continues, this time with the second of his major novels, written while he was on the run from creditors, living in Switzerland with his second wife. The Idiot is the only one of Dostoevsky’s novels written while […]

William Finnegan’s Barbarian Days

To begin with, a confession: I have an abiding fear of the ocean. That fear has not prevented me from swimming in ocean waters – albeit close to the shores – or venturing out in boats of various sizes, either […]

Michel Houellebecq’s Platform

I am not a superstitious person, nor do I have any faith in the supernatural, but I believe some rare figures throughout history have had the gift of prophecy. Doubtless their fortunetelling owes more to some heightened intellectual sensitivity than […]

Mircea Eliade’s A History Of Religious Ideas (Vol.2)

For most of my adult life, I have had no use or patience for religion. I was raised outside of the church, never inducted into any religious tradition, and therefore – like so many of my generation – I came […]

Stephen Smith’s The Scramble For Europe

Stephen Smith’s La Ruée Vers L’Europe was the talk of Paris upon its publication in France last year, and it is poised to be no less explosive in the English-speaking world after the June release of the English translation, The […]

Paul Auster’s Winter Journal

Given pages enough, and time, how would you organize the story of your life? Would you begin sensibly, that is to say, chronologically, from infancy into adulthood? Or would you perhaps single out the most impactful moments, the most important […]

Nikos Kazantzakis’ Zorba The Greek

One of the oldest of our mythological dichotomies is between the rational, contemplative Apollonian and the sensuous, emotive Dionysian. In literature, the former are more often brooding melancholics, patterned on Prince Hamlet, while the latter are typically depicted as Falstaffian […]

G.K. Chesterton’s In Defense Of Sanity: Selected Essays

Sanity is today in short supply. The shortage makes itself visible in the men and women we elect to high office, as well as in the media class charged with reporting on them. It’s increasingly visible in our universities, supposed […]