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ideas interviews Podcasts Poems Thinkers writer's inspiration

Poet Dana Gioia nails it.

Every not-so-often, a person can distill a complex idea into one sentence.

It’s a rare event. But when it happens the idea snaps into your mind forever.

Today’s Econ Talk podcast episode was one such occasion.

Dana Gioia snapped my synapses when he shared this definition of the novel:

Now, the great thing of literature–and this is literature as distinct from film and other theater, which are forms of storytelling–but the beauty of the novel and poetry is that they essentially are our cultural machinery for articulating the inner lives of people. In effect, the novel is based on–the very definition of the novel, although people never talk about this–is based on irony. Which is to say, somebody’s outer life is doing this and their inner life is doing that.

It’s hard to think of a novel that doesn’t follow this idea. I’m sure there’s some experimental four hundred pager out there, but the novels I truly know all exhibit this tension between the characters inner and outer life.

In Tolkien’s The Hobbit – Bilbo duels between his craving for comfortable Shire life and his Took instincts for adventure.

In Jeff Smith’s Bone – Fone Bone longs to return to Boneville, but harbors a secret love for Thorn who could never follow him there (Graphic novels count too right?).

Or in Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake – Gogol’s divided between the need to honor his parents and his traditional Indian heritage, and the allure of American success.

Irony threads through all of them. And novels will no longer read the same to me.

Russ Roberts and Dana Gioia’s conversation was inspiring throughout.

Listen in full below:

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4Panel Friday amreading Art comics Drawings

Four Panel Friday: J.R.R.Tolkien’s drawings of Entrances to the Elvenking’s halls



Ok. These aren’t exactly comic panels.

But the more I go through old books during this time spent at home, the more I discover “four panels” in other parts of literature.

Tolkien’s perspective and line variation are impressive. He incorporates straight lines, diagonal and curved lines, stipples, blacked out inks.

The man was non-stop.

From: The Art of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

By: Wayne G. Hammond, Christina Scull

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Poems

Middle Earth Potential


Gandalf believed in

Bilbo, Shire burglar.

The dwarves? Not so much.