Site Essays

Somewhere on this site is the quote from Cato the Elder that I used for years in reply to queries about the absence of an ‘official’ website about me or my work. Cato is said to have remarked, ‘I’d rather the Romans ask why there are no statues to Cato, than have them ask why there are.’ [Read more]

On Readings

Public performances are another aspect of the writer’s business about which I feel some ambivalence. There are ironies here: I enjoy reading aloud, and I derive a great deal of pleasure from meeting readers. What’s the problem, then?

The Problem with ‘The Patriot’

I was in London when the latest summer blockbuster, Roland Emmerich’s ‘The Patriot’ opened in theatres there. It was assaulted by some of the most strident negative comments I’ve seen in a long time. The core allegation was that the film represented a ‘blood libel’ against the English people.

Strong, even hysterical language, and I remember being amused, seeing this as yet another example (during a month spent in the U.K.) of a curious defensiveness in the English media. Well, I’ve since seen the film. The reaction seems a tad less hysterical now.

Mondegreens

Sometimes life delivers something we always longed for but didn’t even know it. It doesn’t happen (as best I can tell) nearly often enough, and usually the matter in question is minor, but I can report that this week I learned what a mondegreen is, and I’m a happier man for it.

In Memoriam: Dorothy Dunnett

I met Dorothy Dunnett first in the spring of 1975, a memory I cherish and a moment that was to teach me something about writers and how they might deal graciously with readers. I was living in a village called Hanney – just outside of Oxford – that year, working on the papers that became The Silmarillion

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