Was Tolkien a libertarian?

An essay in the Intercollegiate Review explores J. R. R. Tolkien’s political views.  He said in a letter that his “political opinions lean more and more to Anarchy (philosophically understood, meaning abolition of control not whiskered men with bombs).” Also, “The most improper job of any man, even saints, is bossing other men. Not one in a million is fit for it, and least of all those who seek the opportunity.”  This becomes a theme, for example, in the Hobbits, who, as he says, have “hardly any government.” [Read more...]

A Lutheran reading list

Thanks for those suggestions about funny reading and serious reading.  They are very helpful and give me ideas for lots of good reading.  Now T. R. Halvorson has put together a reading list for Lutheran laypeople, divided into “beginning,” “intermediate,” and “further on.”

See the list after the jump.  Are there other titles you would add? [Read more...]

“Wizard of Oz” and the Indians

The Oneida tribe has been leading the charge against the Washington Redskins’ name.  But now that tribe is itself caught in a controversy over its plans to open a casino in Chittenango, N.Y.  That was the home of L. Frank Baum, author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.   Plans for the casino, to be named “Yellow Brick Road,” would honor the local author.  But it turns out, Baum, as a newspaper writer in 1890, advocated the extermination of all Indians, including, presumably, the Oneida. [Read more...]

The digital generation prefers print on paper

I really enjoy my Kindle.  But when it comes to reading scholarly works, I need to flip back and forth, mark pages, study illustrations, and generally read more carefully.  I kind of need hard-copy printed books to do that.

Now it turns out that the Millennial generation, computer-literate and screen-oriented as they are, are the same way, maybe more so!  Their preference for reading old-fashioned books is overwhelming.

See why, with details about the mental difference between reading on paper and reading on a screen after the jump. [Read more...]

New Dr. Seuss manuscripts discovered

Not only are we getting a new book based on the discovery of a long lost manuscript by Harper Lee.   We are also getting a new book based on the discovery of a long lost manuscript by Dr. Seuss!

It’s called What Pet Should I Get, will be released on July 28, and features the same brother and sister from One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish.  As of right now, it’s already #17 on the Amazon bestseller list.  Two other manuscripts were found in the same cardboard box and will also be published. [Read more...]

Harper Lee’s not-so-new novel

Quite a few novelists–Joseph Heller, J. D. Salinger, Ralph Ellison–have written one great novel, but then wrote nothing else, or nothing else in its league.  One of those writers is Harper Lee, whose To Kill a Mockingbird, published in 1960, makes the bestseller lists to this day.  So readers have been excited to hear that she is coming out with another novel, Go Set a Watchman, which won’t even be released until July 14 but is already an Amazon bestseller.

But this is not exactly a new novel.  Apparently, it’s the first draft of what would later become Mockingbird.  It’s the story of an adult woman, who goes by the nickname of “Scout,” who goes to visit her aged father Atticus, whereupon the story is told, in third person, as a reminiscence.  When she showed it to a publisher, the editor recommended that she re-write the book from the point of view of Scout as a child.  That was brilliant advice, since one of the things that makes Mockingbird such great fiction is the narrative voice and the perspective of young Scout, who tells a warm and often humorous tale of growing up in the deep south, which suddenly turns serious as her father, an attorney, bravely defends a black man in a rape trial.

So if Watchman tells the same story, but without Scout’s point of view, it’s hard to see the point.  Plus, controversy has broken out over whether Ms. Lee, in poor health in a nursing home, really wanted this manuscript published.  But still, the book will surely be worth reading.  If nothing else, early drafts are often a clue to the author’s original intentions. [Read more...]