Columns

Dickens’ “Pickwick Papers” wasn’t the original serialized novel, but it was the work that truly popularized the form. Other Dickens novels followed with great success. Is “Walking Dead” the modern form of the serial? (Folger Graphics for Discovering)

Column: The Novel Can Be Resurrected in Dickensian Fashion

Sunday, May 3, 2015

In 1847, an English cleaning woman was extremely excited to learn that the boy lodging in her employer’s house was “the son of the man that put together Dombey” — that is, the son of Charles Dickens. The woman could neither read nor write, but she lived above a snuff shop where, on the first Monday of every month, a community of friends would gather to read aloud the latest installment of Dombey and Son, which had begun serialization on Oct. 1, 1846. By that time, the monthly installments of Dickens’ novels — which started with The Pickwick Papers in 1836 — were such a …

Column: The Lasting Burden of the Armenian Genocide

Sunday, May 3, 2015

As a boy in California’s Central Valley, Richard Hovannisian was discouraged from learning to read, write or even speak his parents’ native language, Armenian. He made up for lost time, becoming a pre-eminent Armenian scholar, founding the Armenian studies program at the University of California, Los Angeles, (where he is professor emeritus) and …

Column: The Diminishing Woodpile

Sunday, May 3, 2015

I think it must be natural, when you reach a certain age and most of your adult responsibilities are behind you, to obsess on the trivial. I think it has something to do with a need to feel some measure of control. Like everyone who heats a house with wood, I keep a …

Willem Lange: Tales From the Age of Whaling

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Montpelier Most of us have seen the film Moby Dick, in which Gregory Peck, clomping around the deck of the Pequod on an ivory leg-stump, maniacally pursues the white whale that in an earlier encounter had so abbreviated him. Some of us, willingly or not, have read the …

Column: Trading Your Privacy for a Discount

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The John Hancock company has announced a program offering discounts on life insurance to customers with good health habits, as registered on their Fitbit monitors — wearable computers that automatically upload data on your physical state. The most physically active customers may earn as much as 15 percent …

Column: The Center (and Left and Right) Will Not Hold

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Washington The world’s democracies, perhaps especially our own, face a peculiar set of contradictions that are undermining faith in public endeavor and unraveling old loyalties. There is a decline of trust in traditional political parties but also a rise in partisanship. A broad desire for governments to reduce …

Column: Campaign Spending Is a Scandal Waiting to Happen

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The role of money and politics in the 2016 presidential election is a conundrum. Humongous sums will be spent; the effect on the outcome could be minimal, but in time the flood of cash may produce Watergate-level money scandals. Spending by candidates, parties and outside groups and individuals …

Column: Choose a Woman for U.N. Secretary-General

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Over the next year, the United Nations will make a critical choice. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s term ends Dec. 31, 2016, and a new leader will replace him. In the past, the election of a successor has taken place in the fall of a secretary-general’s final year in office, …

Failed Policy: Obama Appeases, Iran Rises

Monday, April 27, 2015

Washington In December, President Obama said that he wished to see Iran ultimately become a “very successful regional power.” His wish — a nightmare for the Western-oriented Arab states — is becoming a reality. Consider: ∎  Gulf of Aden: Iran sends a flotilla of warships and weapons-carrying freighters …

Column: Trade, Yes, but Help American Workers

Monday, April 27, 2015

Washington No, President Obama, Elizabeth Warren isn’t wrong. Obama told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews last Tuesday that the populist Democratic senator from Massachusetts is in error in opposing a free-trade agreement his administration negotiated with 11 other Pacific nations. Warren is right: The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is an abomination …

Editorial: Hello, Pluto

Monday, April 27, 2015

People of Earth: Only rarely do you get the chance to explore a new world, so buckle up because the moment is approaching at a speed of 30,000 mph. That’s how fast NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is hurtling toward its destination of tiny, distant Pluto. Just 60 million …

Column: May 4, 1970 — Four Dead in Ohio

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Forty-five years ago, on May 4, 1970, at half past noon, I was watching pints of blood flow out of Jeffrey Miller’s head onto the asphalt parking lot of Kent State University. He had been shot by Ohio …

Column: Shame Can Be a Force for Good

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Leadership gurus often talk about blame-storming, which is just like brainstorming except that the purpose is to find a scapegoat for something that’s gone wrong. Social media is now producing what you might call “shame-storming,” where some offense …