In a sense, then, Melville’s most famous work (published in 1851) is made up of two different books: the one is the novel proper, which is a great and unique work of American literature; the other is a long-winded and pedantic study of whaling and whales generally.
The sheer originality of “Wise Blood” is, for me, one of its strongest attractions. It is an amazing grace tale that is simply inimitable—and amazing.
The plot concerns a man named John Russell. He is a non-Native American who was raised as an Apache; and if you want an example of stoicism or “grace under pressure”, here it is.
Stories about the supernatural fascinate and attract, I suppose, because they deal with those realms of human experience that are mysterious.
But horror more than anything else permeates Amis’s history of the Soviet Union. He gives readers a nightmarish overview of a little-known and enforced famine that ended the lives of some five million people.
Nikolai Gogol published his great novel, “Dead Souls”, in 1842. The plot concerns a man named Pavel Ivanovich Chichikov, who buys dead serfs from various landowners; not the cadavers of these serfs, rest assured; only their names.
Sigrid Undset’s masterpiece is actually a trilogy.
“Light in August” (1932) is set in the American South during the era of racial segregation and is focused chiefly on a protagonist named Joe Christmas.
Anyone who has spent a night or two in the wilderness knows that there is always a potential for danger.
I have a certain rule of thumb with respect to the great philosophers of the past...