Civilized Reader

The Devilment and Duels of Life

by Sean Fitzpatrick

Fyodor Dostoevsky was condemned to death—public execution by firing squad. The year was 1849 and the young Dostoevsky, fresh from…

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The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan: The Importance of the Impossible

by Sean Fitzpatrick

If all literature were based upon plausibility and credibility, there would be no such thing as fiction. Imagination is a deterrent…

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The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse by Beatrix Potter

by Sean Fitzpatrick

 If there is anything pleasant in life, it is doing what we aren’t meant to do. If there is anything…

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Homesick at Home: A Chestertonian Thanksgiving

by Sean Fitzpatrick

“Frances! Come here! Come here at once!” Frances Chesterton started and flew from her half-prepared afternoon tea to the study…

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Thanksgiving and the Tall Tale

by Sean Fitzpatrick

“Thanksgiving Day. Let all give humble, hearty, and sincere thanks, now, but the turkeys.”   ~ Mark Twain, Pudd’nhead Wilson’s Calendar…

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Guilt Gone Wilde: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

by Sean Fitzpatrick

If Oscar Wilde had been a man of our time, he might have had rather mixed feelings about the LGBT liberation…

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Chesterton’s The Man Who was Thursday: Nightmare or Dream Come True?

by Sean Fitzpatrick

Although the delight of civilized readers everywhere, detective fiction is built upon an uncivilized pessimism that expects to find evil lurking…

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Life Echoes in Eternity: On J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Leaf by Niggle”

by Jonathan Shoulta

Urging his troops to manly fortitude in the face of Germanic barbarians, General Maximus of the 2000 film, Gladiator does not downplay the…

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The Rime of the Ancient Mariner & Lent: A Matter of Life in Death

by Sean Fitzpatrick

All are guilty. Unbridled assertion of self. Satanic pride. Pure and simple devilment. All are Judas. All are Caiaphas. All…

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Is Silas Marner One of the Good Books?

by Jonathan Shoulta

Although the George Eliot novel is missing from some iterations of John Senior’s list of 1,000 Good Books, Silas Marner appears in the list as…

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Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island

by Dr. William Fahey

“One more step, Mr. Hands,” said I, “and I’ll blow your brains out! Dead men don’t bite, you know,” I…

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The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain: The Savage Noble

by Sean Fitzpatrick

Nothing conjures up summer quite like a bully, sure-’nough treasure: A kite, a dead rat and a string to swing…

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Poe’s The Black Cat: The Perverseness Which Passeth Understanding

by Sean Fitzpatrick

Even as nature falls asleep under the fiery spell of autumn, there awakens in the lords of nature a keen spiritual…

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Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

by Sean Fitzpatrick

The womb and the tomb—one of the most striking mirror images that our lives have to offer. Babies are buried…

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The Death of Ivan Ilych by Leo Tolstoy: A Story for All Souls

by Sean Fitzpatrick

A man lies on his deathbed—screaming; screaming for three days without cessation. Even behind closed doors, the sound horrifies all…

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The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells

by Sean Fitzpatrick

It is a terrible paradox that the pursuit dedicated to improving the human condition bears the greatest potential to destroy humanity….

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The Murders in the Rue Morgue and Other Tales by Edgar Allan Poe

by Sean Fitzpatrick

Edgar Allan Poe was missing. The year was 1849. There had been no trace of Mr. Poe for six days…

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Do the Dead Come Back and Watch the Living? On Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca

by Emma Warner

Every reader loves a good ghost story. And that is why Daphne du Maurier’s Romantic-Gothic novel, Rebecca has thrilled readers since its publication…

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Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes by Mother Goose

by Sean Fitzpatrick

There is a gravestone in Boston’s Granary Burying Ground that legend purports marks the resting place of Mother Goose. Now, whether…

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Wartime Morality in Ambrose Bierce’s “A Horseman in the Sky”

by Jonathan Shoulta

The extant portion of the six-mile long Civil War front at Cold Harbor, Virginia is small enough to explore in an…

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