The Greatest American Short Story Ever Written is by an Author You Never Learned About

A single reading cannot possibly convey the astonishing depth of what is going on within this deceptively simple story; only multiple readings can peel back the multiple layers of its complex construction and ambiguous structure. None of that complexity makes sense without the knowledge that Charles Chesnutt was the first African-American (of mixed race heritage it must be mentioned, but who absolutely presented himself to his readers at the turn of the 20th century as “negro”) to make a living writing fiction.

Was There a Real Mother Hubbard?

Sarah Catherine Martin had quite the interesting life; it is said that she was once the lover of the man who would become England’s King William IV. It was while visiting the home of her future in-laws that her future brother-in-law with the name, I kid you not, John Bastard, became so incensed by Sarah’s incessant chattering while he was trying to compose a letter that he told her to “run away and write one of your stupid little rhymes.”

Speaking of Grendel…but I Digress

Throughout these digressive episodes, the sea and lakes are transformed from mere bodies of water into inscrutable symbols of a foreboding netherworld populated by mysterious monstrosities and grimly fiendish ogres capable of ascending to the surface to the enact deadly violence upon humans seeking ultimate abomination of civilizing the world above.

Red Harvest: Hammett v. the Brits

What is most ironic and amusing about this absolutely horrific description is that its understatement serves to replicate the entirety of the British detective story tradition in which people—usually gathering at a manor house—start dropping like flies as a result of the murderous iniquities that are absolutely no different from the psychological motivations driving characters like Pete the Finn or Reno Starkey.

What Makes Elphaba Wicked?

The final section in which Elphaba travels to self-exile in Kiamo Ko shows how the image of the wicked witch is constructed. Elphaba attempts to learn the secrets of dark magic from the Grimmerie, a book of secrets that is the object of the Wizard’s journey to Oz, and this section provides explanations for much of the iconic images of the Wicked Witch of the West that most readers expect: the pointy hat, the flying monkeys, the broomstick. By this point, Elphaba has lost her lover, her family, and even her passion. She descends into a kind of madness, but never achieves the wickedness associated with her.

The Passion of the Tinker Bell

Tink’s impolitic attitude toward this romantic rival for Peter’s affections is quite clearly delineated in a conversation between Pan and Wendy: “She says you are a great ugly girl, and that she is my fairy” It doesn’t take long to realize that in Tinker Bell’s mind there is a place for only one girl in Peter’s life, even if that girl is a fairy.

Plato’s Republic: Utopia or Kakistocracy?

The initial response to The Republic is the revelation that the reason for its continued influence upon those whom would seek to replicate in practice the ideal state Plato offers in theory is precisely because his republic reflects a patriarchal, misogynistic, militaristic society in which the creative spirit is censored because it is viewed as the most dangerous influence. So far, all attempts to impose Plato’s idea of a “just state” on actual citizenry have failed, though that certainly may have changed by January 19, 2021.