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Category Archives: Literature

Don’t we have heretics anymore?

Babel: Or, the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution. R.F. Kuang, Harper Voyager, 2022. 546 pages. I almost never read bestsellers, and this book reminded me why. This book makes me want to go read some Jordan Peterson or something to wash the politically correct taste out of my mouth. […]

Now fully in the public domain: Sherlock Holmes

Illustration from the December 1892 issue of Strand Magazine Each year on January 1, copyrights that are 95 years old expire. It was 95 years ago, in 1927, when the last Sherlock Holmes stories were published. (Copyright laws vary by country. In the U.S., copyrights expire after 95 years.) Those who profit from copyrights will […]

My last Walter Scott post for a while, I promise

I had high hopes for The Bride of Lammermoor, the sixth novel by Sir Walter Scott that I have read. But it let me down. Though there was some fine Scottish gothic atmosphere — seaside castles, witches, and violent storms — the story really came down to little more than youthful folly and parental cruelty […]


Scott-Land: The Man Who Invented a Nation. Stuart Kelly, Polygon (Edinburgh), 2010. 328 pages. First, a disclaimer. I did not read the entire book. By the time I was halfway through, so much of the book seemed only obliquely relevant to the subject of Sir Walter Scott’s novels that I scanned the remainder of the […]

No more chaos on the book shelves

What do two nerds do on a rainy day? They empty all the bookshelves, stack the books on the floor, scan all the titles into a database, and put the books back onto the shelves, in alphabetical order by category. Including the scanning that I had done before Ken’s visit, this was a total of […]

Ken’s story lives on …

In many ways, it seems like just yesterday that Ken’s Walden on Wheels was published. That was May 14, 2013. The book continues to sell well. The book earned back Ken’s advance from the publisher several years ago and continues to bring in money for Ken. Ken wrote Walden on Wheels here at Acorn Abbey. […]

Oliver Cromwell: Villain or hero?

Source: Wikimedia Commons What’s remarkable about Oliver Cromwell, 350 years after he died, is that he is still a touchy subject. Why should that be? I would propose that it’s because the conflicts of the 17th Century have not really been settled: What kind of government is best, and what should religion have to do […]

Scots: Language? Or dialect?

Concise Scots Dictionary. Edinburgh University Press, 2017. Second edition; first published 1985. 852 pages. In the academic debate about whether Scots is a language or just a dialect, it had seemed more likely to me as a mere reader and non-academic that Scots is a dialect. This was only because I can understand it, or […]

We’re overdue for a Sir Walter Scott revival

I’ve written here in the past about how, when I can’t find newer fiction that appeals to me (often the case), I read a classic. It was back in 2013 when I read The Antiquary. Last year I read The Heart of Mid-Lothian, and earlier this year I started (but didn’t finish) Ivanhoe. I found […]

Stories about bad people

From “The Pale Horse” (BBC / Amazon Prime Video). Boring. Regular readers here know that there are certain kinds of stories that just don’t interest me. The largest category would be stories set in the here and now. But there’s another category as well: stories about bad people. “The Pale Horse,” from BBC One (2020), […]