Two women defined by and celebrated for a single book each

Two women defined by and celebrated for a single book eachBorn 25 or so years apart, Margaret Mitchell and Harper Lee were each defined by a single book. Mitchell’s was Gone With the Wind, while Lee’s was To Kill a Mockingbird. Both women – daughters of the 20th century American South – situated their work in their native regions. Mitchell chose Civil War Georgia for her…

19th century Scottish novelists cast a long shadow

Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson's reputations were created primarily by Hollywood

19th century Scottish novelists cast a long shadowA recent newspaper feature on people’s early reading experiences reminded me of my own, in which two 19th century Scottish novelists – Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson – were the key figures. Mind you, they enjoyed a major assist from Hollywood movies. Stevenson came first, when I was seven years of age. The…

The brouhaha over Greece, Iran and Atticus Finch

The brouhaha over Greece, Iran and Atticus FinchAs July dwindles down into August, here are a few personal reflections on three of the month’s big stories – Greece, Iran, and the brouhaha about Atticus Finch. It was obvious from the get-go that Greece was placing all its chips on the belief that the Northern Europeans, particularly the Germans, would ultimately agree to…

Saul Bellow was born 100 years ago this month

To Canadians’ shame, Canada’s greatest novelist’s centenary has been met with silence

Saul Bellow was born 100 years ago this monthOnly a forgetful silence has marked this month’s centenary of the greatest of all Canadian-born novelists. Yet those who care to remedy such a state of affairs still have time before Saul Bellow’s birth month is out to read his astonishing 1976 Nobel Prize Lecture. They have the rest of their lives to marvel that…