Vivid Emotional Insight from Willa Cather

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Here is another great example of how a work of art communicates something that can’t be communicated intellectually. There’s no communication of information only, that can convey what this so vividly conveys. It’s from a novel by Willa Cather that is often found on lists of the greatest novels of all time—”Death Comes for the Archbishop.” Set in New Mexico … Read More

From GATSBY—Fastest Example Yet of What a Work of Art Does

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I was having lunch a couple weeks ago with two business colleagues.  I was trying to express to them what it is that a work of art communicates. I tried this Robert Frost poem, but it didn’t “connect.”  Then I tried the last line of Gatsy – one of the most famous sentences in the history of the novel: So we beat … Read More

What a Work of Art Communicates: Example from “Moby Dick”

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Here’s the paragraph that introduces Stubb, in Herman Melville’s MOBY DICK. Stubb was the second mate. He was a native of Cape Cod; and hence, according to local usage, was called a Cape-Cod-man. A happy-go-lucky; neither craven nor valiant; taking perils as they came with an indifferent air; and while engaged in the most imminent crisis of the chase, toiling away, … Read More

Amazingly Vivid Characters in “Jane Eyre”

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An illustration from the Book Jane Eyre is Reading in Chapter 1, “Bewick’s History of British Birds”  Here are the very first paragraphs of “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte. There was no possibility of taking a walk that day. We had been wandering, indeed, in the leafless shrubbery an hour in the morning; but since dinner (Mrs. Reed, when there … Read More

Emotional Insight from “Catcher in the Rye” Part II

Vik RubenfeldNovel1 Comment

Here’s another big, easy-to-get with example of emotional insight from J.D. Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye.” Holden Caulfield is trying to find his little sister Phoebe at her school: I went down by a different staircase, and I saw another “Fuck you” on the wall. I tried to rub it off with my hand again, but this one was scratched … Read More

Emotional Insight from “Catcher in the Rye”

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(Illustration via Listal) In this passage from J.D. Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye,” Holden Caulfield has finally gotten back to his house. He’s sneaking in so as not to wake his parents, whom he’s trying to avoid. He’s hoping to talk to his dear sister, Phoebe. It was dark as hell in the foyer, naturally, and naturally I couldn’t turn … Read More

Unforgettable Emotional Insight from Tolstoy’s “War and Peace”

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WAR AND PEACE has tons of amazing, unforgettable moments in it. There’s a thread listing many of them, on Goodreads. Here’s one of my favorites. BTW, this text is from the spectacular translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.  I can’t recommend their many translations from great Russian writers, highly enough. To the right Rostov saw the first rows of … Read More

Emotional Insight from Ernest Hemingway

Vik RubenfeldNovel2 Comments

Here’s a quote from Ernest Hemingway’s THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA: He looked across the sea and knew how alone he was now. But he could see the prisms in the deep dark water and the line stretching ahead and the strange undulation of the calm. The clouds were building up now for the trade wind and he looked … Read More

Another Stunner from GATSBY

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A Sign Like the One Described in “Gatsby” I was talking about Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” in the comment section with reader Geaaronson the other day, so it seems like a good time for another blast of emotional insight from that novel. Have a look: