David Lahti

  • Hi aaa, this can happen if, for instance, you have your text size set very large. You might want to figure out how to decrease that, or else try a new browser. There is a broad red border on this site so I’m surprised that you’re experiencing this problem– sorry about that!

  • Thumbnail(Ἱππολυτος)
    Euripides
    429 BC
    (Disaster follows when Phaedra falls for her stepson!)
    Crop of Phaedra and Hippolytus (1802), by the French neoclassical painter Baron Pierre-Narcisse Guérin (Louvre, Paris). The pa […]

  • Thumbnail(Le Petit Prince)
    Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
    1943
    (A little man leaves his tiny planet to explore the universe, only to discover that the most important things in life can be found anywhere.)

    Watercolor […]

  • ThumbnailH. G. Wells
    1910
    (A man of precisely 37.5 years of age can’t seem to find success or happiness in life… perhaps he has to do something drastic.)
     John Mills as Alfred Polly in the 1949 Anthony Pelissier film. […]

  • ThumbnailMark Twain
    1865-1890
    (A champion of common sense and nonsense casually delivers his colorful yarns, witty satires, and twisty dramas.)
    Crop of a photograph of the front porch of a 200+ year old farmhouse in […]

  • ThumbnailArthur Conan Doyle
    1902
    (The scientific minds of Holmes and Watson are tested by howls on the moor, the legend of a fiery hell-hound, and a giant pawprint next to a dead nobleman.)
    Crop of The Hound of the […]

  • ThumbnailThomas Hardy
    1886
    (The fortunes of a strong-willed hay-trusser prove to be as volatile as he is.)
    “Hay-trussing–?” said the turnip-hoer, who had already begun shaking his head. “O no.”  The first of Robert Ba […]

  • ThumbnailFrancis Parkman
    1848
    (Horses, rifles, and knives see a party of adventurers through the land of expansive plains, craggy mountains, buffalo, and the Sioux.)
    Crop of Fort Laramie, by Alfred Jacob Miller […]

  • ThumbnailMatthew Arnold
    1840-1849
    (A man of intellect and of spiritual sensitivity contemplates the purpose of life and its struggles.)
    Crop of Melancholy (1894), by Edvard Munch.  This painting is in The Rasmus Meyer Co […]

  • Thumbnail(La Chanson de Roland)
    anonymous (Turold?)
    late 11th century
    (The mightiest and noblest of Charlemagne’s crusading knights is betrayed, but his companions stand fiercely by him as the Saracens attack.)
     Battle […]

    • Hi aaa, this can happen if, for instance, you have your text size set very large. You might want to figure out how to decrease that, or else try a new browser. There is a broad red border on this site so I’m surprised that you’re experiencing this problem– sorry about that!

  • ThumbnailHarriet Beecher Stowe
    1852
    (Two slaves struggle mightily: one for her liberty, the other for his integrity.)
    Crop of A Group of Slaves leaving to Work in the Field on James Hopkinson’s Plantation in Edisto […]

  • ThumbnailJohn Donne
    d. 1631
    (An earthy, imaginative, thoughtful soul reveals his view of love, steeped in metaphor and emotion.)
    Crop of Francesca da Rimini with her lover Paoloby the Scottish painter William Dyce (18 […]

  • ThumbnailKurt Vonnegut, Jr.
    1973
    (Little do a frustrated writer and a troubled car dealer realize, that their impolite author is using their journey to meet each other as an excuse to mastermind a deconstruction of […]

  • ThumbnailEdna Ferber
    1930
    (The Oklahoma land rush of 1889 gives Yancey Cravat an opportunity to rescue his wife from civilized mediocrity, and head west for the untamed life of the pioneer.)
    Oklahoma Land Rush 1893, by […]

  • Thumbnail(Une nuit de Cléopâtre)
    Théophile Gautier
    1838
    (A young hunter is willing to die to be with queen Cleopatra for just one evening.)
    Alexandre Cabanel’s 1887 painting, Cleopatra Testing Poisons on Those Con […]

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    Baroness Emmuska Orczy
    1905
    (A master of disguise rescues French aristocrats from the guillotine and drops them safely into London society—until a sly French inspector tracks him down.)
    ScarletPimpernel_IanMcKellenIan McKellen as the French inspector Chauvelin in the 1982 London Films production of The Scarlet Pimpernel, which also starred Anthony Andrews and Jane Seymour.  This and other stills can be found at the blog Of Trims and Frills and Furbelows.  

     

    Don’t let the title’s reference to a dainty flower and the femininity of the author fool you.  This is no Austen or Brontë novel.  It is a hearty adventure, more along the lines of the father of adventure stories Sir Walter Scott, or Dumas, or Stevenson.  What a treat to have a woman join these illustrious ranks!  Rugged oaths and swordfights may be lacking, but stories stocked with those can easily be found elsewhere.  Instead Orczy proficiently places a “caped avenger”-style suspense drama (a genre some say she invented) against a backdrop of fashionable London society.  The high manners, the social competition, the gossip, the dress, the flamboyant events… Orczy was a baroness herself, and this is undoubtedly part of the reason why she was able to present these ingredients with such freshness and authenticity.  But all this is ancillary to the mystery and excitement that lend this tale its permanent appeal.

  • Hi Dan, I know what you mean– at first, it seems only modest and open-minded to allow for diversity of taste without imposing some independent or objective standard. But then if we wholeheartedly accept that view we find ourselves in the strange and isolated position of being unable to communicate with each other. Our initial intuition must…[Read more]

  • ThumbnailEdmund Burke
    1759
    (What does it really mean for an opinion to be “a matter of taste”?)

    An art museum visitor observing a Jackson Pollock painting; from the blog Art Now and Then, by Jim Lane. 

    When we say […]

    • Hi Dan, I know what you mean– at first, it seems only modest and open-minded to allow for diversity of taste without imposing some independent or objective standard. But then if we wholeheartedly accept that view we find ourselves in the strange and isolated position of being unable to communicate with each other. Our initial intuition must therefore be an overreaction. Maybe what we really want is to appreciate personal differences but also recognize some ideal shared standards in principle, even though in practice we can never attain an ultimate objective “God’s eye” view. Oddly enough this perspective will prompt us to pay attention to others’ opinions much more than if we think we’re simply 8 billion people with thoroughly unassailable, incommensurable tastes.

  • Thumbnail(Njála)

    anonymous
    1270-1290
    (A sage in medieval Iceland attempts to restore order in the face of bloody vengeance and warrior’s honor)
    Detail from Gunnar at Rangá, an illustration of an event in Njáls Saga< […]

  • Yes, it certainly had some influence on me too, although later– in my 20s– and mostly because my psyche was already in tune with it somewhat. I felt like Turgenev had tapped into some emotional states that I hadn’t been able to articulate and barely even to recognize as such.

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