The Last Man: Shelley’s Prolonged Apocalypse

What struck me about Mary Shelley's The Last Man was that unlike other apocalyptic protagonists, these heroes seem to learn nothing through their jaunt with the plague, and they have had about 300% more time to figure it out than others.

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I Can’t Forgive Alice Vavasor

At the close of Can you Forgive Her? readers are asked to follow suit and forgive Vavasor -- easily -- for what she has done.  As a reader in the 21st century I could really care less about her jilting Grey; I once jilted a lover.  What I struggle to forgive in Vavasor is her insistence that she can never want to forgive herself.

The Devil’s in Gogol’s Portrait

Gogol's protagonist comes face to face with the temptation of what he wants most.  For Tchartkoff, this is money and fame.  He buys the wayward painting because he falls in love with it, its undeniable expression of talent and of something else: its evocation of the feminine diabolical. What makes this devil -- like so many devils before and after it in literature -- "feminine" is its Asiatic garb

Murder Fantasies in 20th-Century Male Fiction

This month I read four novels that seemed to be connected to each other through the trope of fantastical misogyny:  Nabokov's Lolita, Thompson's The Nothing Man, Ellis's American Psycho, and Hamsun's Hunger(ok, this novel isn't quite 20th century --1890 -- but is considered an important landmark novel that inspired 20th century fiction).  In each of the these texts the hero's actions are propelled forward through his obsessively imagining the physical abuse of the women around him.

Mysticism in Woolf’s Waves

If Woolf creates art through the mystic’s intuition then she, like Yeats, should illustrate a sacrifice of ego in her texts which amounts to an absorption of consciousness into something more obscure and perhaps more significant. In The Waves Woolf juxtaposes consciousness with the natural flux of the ocean tide.