Category Archives: Literature

Four Stages to the Central One Idea

Discovering and internalizing the Central One Idea in a great work is vital for proper reading and for cultivating wisdom and virtue.1 There are four stages of acquisition and expression that can be used to lead the student (and teacher) to this Central One Idea. The four-stage sequence is rooted in the trivium—grammar, logic, and […]

More Important Than The Cosmos Itself

why literature matters

Why study literature? This question is often asked by indignant parents, who want to know why their children, destined for business, learn fancy subjects instead of things serviceable to them in life. An open and alert mind—which understands human nature and its possibilities, which can judge and sympathise, which, because of its wide survey and […]

How J. R. R. Tolkien Used Middle-Earth to Reveal Who We Are

J. R. R. Tolkien

In his famous essay on fairy stories, J. R. R. Tolkien asserted that one of the most important facets of fairytales is that they hold up a “Mirror of scorn and pity towards Man.” The fairy story, Tolkien wrote, “may be used as a Mirour de l’Omme” (mirror of man), as something that shows us […]

The Saving Power of Story

Saving Power of Story

“Great works of art pass through us like storm winds, flinging open the doors of perception, pressing upon the architecture of our beliefs with their transforming powers …” – George Steiner One of life’s great little mysteries, if not ironies, remains the unpredictability of what children will grow up to do for their life’s work. […]

A Journey Like Dante’s

Journey Like Dante's

Virgil has vanished. Before Dante realizes it, his steadfast guide and guardian disappears in the Earthly Paradise, the gateway separating Purgatory and Paradise. Though this brings Dante much sorrow, the continuation of his journey depends on this necessary parting. Seven hundred years later, leaving Highlands Latin School for Hillsdale College, I find myself in the […]

Light to the Darkness

Light to Darkness

Narrative accounts and musical commemorations follow in the wake of every disaster. From the Iliad and the Odyssey, written about events related to the Trojan War, to Gordon Lightfoot’s “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” literature and music have dealt with destruction and death. What great crime doesn’t have its own documentary? What great disaster […]

Shadow & Substance

Why Read Shakespeare

The contrast between shadow and substance singularly interested Shakespeare, as did the very nature of things themselves. He even makes use of profound concepts in logic, such as difference, property, and essence. In rhetoric, these are the topics of invention, for they concern the act of defining. So, then, let us define why we should […]