Some random writings on literary topics:
- Leonard Bernstein’s Mass was a classic of my youth. I jumped at the chance when the Baltimore Symphony asked me to write a series about it.
- I wrote my dissertation on Kingsley Amis, and was glad of the opportunity to look back when the Wall Street Journal asked.
- William Shakespeare knew the uses of history better than most. In his play Richard II, he crafted a legal argument out of the elements of history — and the history he knowingly changed mattered as much as what he preserved. Richard II: Shakespeare’s Legal Brief.
- Backstabbing poets, critics hiding behind pseudonyms, politics and revenge: all part of The Peter Bell Phenomenon, an 1819 literary free-for-all edited and brought back to life for your laughter. In this critical edition of a pompous flop, Wordsworth’s terminally uninspired Peter Bell, and parodies of it by Shelley (Peter Bell the Third), Byron (Epilogue), Keats’ friend John Hamilton Reynolds (Peter Bell: A Lyrical Ballad), Walter Scott’s son-in-law John Gibson Lockhart (Benjamin the Waggoner), and one still unknown literary assassin (The Dead Asses), experience mudslinging as only the elegant Romantic poets knew how to do it.