Month: May 2015

Reading the Classics for Fun

I’ve just uploaded updates for two important files on my web site. The first, “Wholesome Literature—A Realistic Choice,” is a rewrite of the essay previously entitled “Wholesome Literature—the Intelligent Choice” for a general religious audience. The original essay began as a literary spotlight to a group of women in my church almost twenty years ago. Of all my literary essays, it was the one with the most potential for revision to a more general audience. After several attempts over the past decade  to make that revision, I finally produced something that satisfies me!

The second document I updated was my personal book list. I now provide a link for each author who has books in the public domain to his or her list of free ebooks on Project Gutenberg‘s web site. I also simplified my list and added descriptions for almost all of the titles.

As I collected descriptions, I couldn’t help but notice how many of them weren’t written to draw a popular audience, particularly those describing the classics. That seems a shame to me, because so many of the classics really are great stories. If the descriptions were written to capitalize more on the story and less on the meaning, the books might find a wider audience. For example, here’s a boring description of The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne: Continue reading

The Devil’s Disciple

The Devil’s Disciple, by George Bernard Shaw (Irish classic, play)

“Set in Colonial America during the Revolutionary era, the play tells the story of Richard Dudgeon, a local outcast and self-proclaimed ‘Devil’s disciple’. In a twist characteristic of Shaw’s love of paradox, Dudgeon sacrifices himself in a Christ-like gesture despite his professed Infernal allegiance.”


The above description sounds serious, but the play itself is quite satirical. While Dudgeon is certainly a Christ figure, he is an unlikely and irreverent one, although he fills this role in a way I don’t find offensive. I love satire, however, so if you don’t, you might come away from this play with a different opinion. The mix-up of identities that leads to Dudgeon going to the gallows will inevitably remind readers of the switch that occurs between Charles Darnay and Sydney Carton in A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens. One of the primary differences between Carton and Dudgeon, however, is that Carton acts on feelings of sincere love, and Dudgeon sets out to sacrifice himself for entirely different reasons: Continue reading

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