Saturday, January 01, 2022

Fortnightly Books Index 2021

 I intended this year to do more Dickens and Scandinavian literature for the Fortnightly Book. I didn't get very far with the former, but I did have a good year for Scandinavian literature. This year also saw a number of hefty tomes -- Heimskringla, Kristin Lavransdatter, Cecilia, and A Dream of Red Mansions are all quite long -- which cut down on how many books could be covered. I have no idea what 2022 will have in store, but I do have a few more Scandinavian works to do, and would still like to do some Dickens, so that seems likely.

November 14: Charles Brockden Brown, Wieland; Memoirs of Carwin the Biloquist
Introduction, Review

October 31: Willa Cather, O Pioneers!
Introduction, Review

October 17: Eyrbyggja Saga
Introduction, Review

October 3: Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
Introduction, Review

September 12: J. R. R. Tolkien [with Christopher Tolkien], The Silmarillion
Introduction, Review

August 29: Snorri Sturluson, Egil's Saga
Introduction, Review

August 15: John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany
Introduction, Review

July 4: Cao Xueqin and Gao E, A Dream of Red Mansions
Introduction, Review

June 20: The Vinland Sagas
Introduction, Review

June 6: Isaac Asimov, The End of Eternity; The Gods Themselves; The Complete Robot; Robot Dreams; Nightfall and Other Stories
Introduction, Review

May 23: Frances Burney, Cecilia
Introduction, Review

May 9: Charles Dickens, Hard Times
Introduction, Review

April 25: Hrafnkel's Saga and Other Stories; The Saga of King Hrolf Kraki
Introduction, Review

April 11: Michael Ende, The Neverending Story
Introduction, Review

March 14: Sigrid Undset, Kristin Lavransdatter
Introduction, Review

February 28: Maurice Baring, The Coat Without Seam; In My End Is My Beginning
Introduction, Review

February 14: George MacDonald, Phantastes
Introduction, Review

January 31: Snorri Sturluson, Heimskringla
Introduction, Review

January 17: Rudolfo Anaya, Bless Me, Ultima
Introduction, Review

January 3: Jane Austen, Mansfield Park
Introduction, Review, Locus Focus


Fortnightly Books Index 2020

Fortnightly Books Index 2019

Fortnightly Books Index 2018

Fortnightly Books Index 2017

Fortnightly Books Index 2016

Fortnightly Books Index 2015

Fortnightly Books Index 2014

Fortnightly Books Index 2012-2013

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

I Ever Wished to Live an Honest Man

BECKET. Herbert! my Herbert!
 High visions, mine in youth, upbraid me now:
 I dreamed of sanctities redeemed from shame;
 Abuses crushed; all sacred offices
 Reserved for spotless hands. Again I see them;
 I see God's realm so bright each English home
 Sharing that glory basks amid its peace;
 I see the clear flame on the poor man's hearth
 From God's own altar lit; the angelic childhood;
 The chaste, strong youth; the reverence of white hairs :--
 'Tis this Religion means. O Herbert! Herbert!
 We must secure her this! Her rights, the lowest
 Shall in my hand be safe. I will not suffer
 The pettiest stone in castle, grange, or mill,
 The humblest clod of English earth, one time
 A fief of my great mother, Canterbury,
 To rest a caitiff's booty. Herbert, Herbert,
 Had I foreseen, with what a vigilant care
 Had I built up my soul! The fall from greatness
 Had tried me less severely. Many a time I said,
“From follies of these courts and camps
 Reverse will scourge me homeward to my God;
 He'll ne'er forego me 'till I grow to Christian !'
 Lo! greatness comes, not judgment.

HERBERT. It may be
That God hath sent you both in one.
Fear nought! At Paris first, and after at Bologna,
You learned the Church's lore.

BECKET. I can be this,
 The watch-dog keeping safe his master's door
 Though knowing but little of the stores within:
 I'll do my best to learn. Give we, each day,
 Six hours to sacred studies ! Ah! you smile;
 You note once more the boaster. Friend, 'tis true,
 Our penitence itself doth need repentance;
 Our humbleness hath in it blots of pride.
 Hark to that truant's song! We celibates
 Are strangely captured by this love of children,
 Nature's revenge -- say, rather, compensation.
 The king will take him hence: God's will be done!
 I lose my pupil, and become your pupil;
 A humble one; no more.
 High saint of God, or doctor of the Church,
 'Twere late for that; yet something still remains:
 I ever wished to live an honest man,
 Honest to all, and most to Christ, my Master.
 Help me to be His servant true!

From Aubrey De Vere's dramatic Poem, Saint Thomas of Canterbury

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Holy Innocents

 And are we, then, to look upon this as so entirely an insulated case, that we must gaze on it, and wonder, and gain no comfort? Rather is it not a pledge of His mercy to all our infants, whom HE allows to be brought near unto HIM? Is it not an encouragement the more to bring them to HIM, a proof the rather that HE does accept and HIMSELF baptize our infants, teaching us, as the same bishop says, “that none of man’s race is incapable of receiving the Divine Sacrament, when that age was found fit for the glory of martyrdom?” HE would teach us by this the more, not to trust our mere senses, but to trust in HIM, Who, being invisible, acteth invisibly. His mysteries cast light the one upon the other, not by explaining them, but by teaching us to receive them unexplained. If these poor mangled forms of speechless clay were, indeed, the first chosen witnesses of His mercy, His martyrs, why should it seem a strange thing to say (which the Church has ever believed)”, that all our baptized infants should thereby become His members? If our Lord, when HE condescended to be an infant like them, did thereby extend such privilege to them, how not much more now to such as them, now that HE has resumed His throne, and hath “all power given HIM in heaven and in earth?” If such were the first-fruits of His incarnation and humiliation, how much more of His exaltation and glory! No signs of martyrdom were seen on these infants; their crown of glory streamed not down on their pale earthly forms; to the world’s eye they were but mangled corpses; and so what matters it, though, when we received back our infants, we saw them in nothing changed? yet was not less that mightiest change wrought, whereby they too were translated from earth to the kingdom of heaven, made members of their LORD, and in HIM children of GOD, heirs of heaven.

Edward Bouverie Pusey, "God's glories in infants set forth in Holy Innocents" (Sermon 89).

Monday, December 27, 2021

And All the Bright Apocalypse of Heaven

 Saint John the Evangelist
by William Croswell

 "The disciple whom Jesus loved." --Gospel for the Day 

 O highly favored, unto whom 'twas given
 To lay thy hand upon the golden keys
 That ope the empyrean mysteries,
 And all the bright apocalypse of heaven! 
 Sweet solace of thy sorrowing soul, when driven
 Into its island banishment alone,
 Thy rapturous spirit has been long at rest,
 Partaker of the glories then foreshown,
 And knowing even as thy thoughts were known.
And if to bide His baptism be the test,
 And drink the cup peculiarly His own,
 Then thou hast gained thy mother's fond request,
 And, stationed near the everlasting throne,
 Shalt lean once more upon thy Savior's breast.

Sunday, December 26, 2021


 No one single quality is perhaps so endearing, from man to man, as good-nature. Talents excite more admiration; wisdom, more respect; and virtue, more esteem: but with admiration envy is apt to mingle, and fear with respect; while esteem, though always honourable, is often cold: but good-nature gives pleasure without any allay; ease, confidence, and happy carelessness, without the pain of obligation, without the exertion of gratitude.

[Francis Burney, Camilla, Volume III, Book V, Chapter 1.]

Half the Misery of Human Life might be extinguished, would Men alleviate the general Curse they lie under, by mutual Offices of Compassion, Benevolence, and Humanity. There is nothing therefore which we ought more to encourage in our selves and others, than that Disposition of Mind which in our Language goes under the Title of Good-nature, and which I shall chuse for the Subject of this Day's Speculation. 

Good-nature is more agreeable in Conversation than Wit, and gives a certain Air to the Countenance which is more amiable than Beauty. It shows Virtue in the fairest Light, takes off in some measure from the Deformity of Vice, and makes even Folly and Impertinence supportable.

[Joseph Addison, Spectator #169]