Articles by Kevin Hartnett

February 3, 2010

Ample Reason America is Ruined, One Good Reason it’s Not 3

James Fallows thinks about government like a broken down car, such that no matter how skilled the driver or where he wants to go, he’s not going to get there. We might have been better off if that were true.

January 13, 2010

Selections from a Winter Reading War and Peace 9

Reading War and Peace, there is the sense of beginning one of the great experiences one might have in a lifetime. It is an enervating feeling, but also a melancholy one.

April 15, 2009

Family Ties: Childhood, Motherhood, and Fatherhood in Literature 11

In advance of Mother’s and and Father’s Day (May 10 and June 21 respectively) I am putting together a catalog of the best representations of Childhood, Motherhood, and Fatherhood in literature. There is a long list of great childhood memoirs, many of which pivot around either a mother or a father. So far I’ve got: […]

March 26, 2009

Scenes of Retreat in War and Peace and Atonement 2

I’m in the early stages of War and Peace and last night read a battle scene in which the Russian troops are retreating from the advancing French army. The chapter follows Nicholas Rostov, as he and his company try to cross the Danube in time to destroy the bridge behind them. The scene is written […]

March 3, 2009

A Weapon So Powerful… 2

Stendhal was apparently a noted womanizer and in that light, The Red and the Black, reads a little like a projection of his greatest fantasies. There is in the first place the iconoclastic Julien Sorel, who triumphs over a coterie of boring, conventional nobles for the love (and virginity) of the fair Mathilde de la […]

February 28, 2009

Live-Blogging The Red and the Black 0

I took Stendhal’s The Red and the Black along on a recent trip to Paris. It’s only now though that I’m back in Philadelphia that young Julien Sorel has finally arrived in La Ville-Lumiere. It took me awhile to get into the book. I began it hoping for the same pleasures I recently found in […]

February 26, 2009

Appearing Elsewhere 0

I ran a piece in last week’s New York Observer reviewing William Goetzmann’s intellectual history, Beyond the Revolution: A History of American Thought from Paine to Pragmatism. A dry title, I know, and somewhat dry inside the cover, too. Goetzmann is near the end of a long academic career and the book felt a little […]

February 17, 2009

Literature in Lieu of the Tour Guide: Fiction (and Non) to Take on Vacation 21

On the last Sunday in November, book critic Adam Begley scooped Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd for the top spot in the New York Times most emailed list. Not with a review though. Instead, he wrote an excellent piece about Florence for the travel section, in which he recommended E.M. Forster’s Room with a View […]

January 26, 2009

Willa Cather, the Greatest American Novelist? 6

I’ve sampled Willa Cather recently after a knowledgeable friend suggested she might be a sleeper candidate for the greatest American novelist. Well, after reading My Antonia and The Professor’s House I have to say, I don’t see it. There are particular things about both books that did not grab me, but to sum up my […]

January 12, 2009

Middlemarch: The Fraught Lives of Women and Men 6

It sells Middlemarch short to call it a novel of manners, although if viewed from just one angle it is. The novel describes the precisely ordered life of the eponymous village in feudal England, where every resident can be placed on a grid according to his annual income and the quality of his lineage. There […]