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Photo by Zane Lee on Unsplash

In the interregnum between ancient Rome and Western Europe, the Byzantine Empire, the Rome of the East, stepped in to fill the void. Its heart was Byzantium (or at different points in its history, Constantinople, and now Istanbul), a city whose opulence and wealth was known for astounding its many visitors. Among its wonders were the mechanical birds, the technology for which was borrowed from the Greeks, that adorned the throne room in artificial trees of gold (or bronze, depending on whom one reads), chirping and singing as foreign dignitaries and other officials approached the emperor.

And it wasn’t just…


I was recently talking to a friend about my newfound love of opera, and he said to me, “aren’t all operas basically overwrought love stories?” I bristled a little at “overwrought,” but in the moment, I said yes. And for a lot of operas, this is true. Think of Carmen, about Don José’s love for the gypsy and her more complicated feelings toward him, or Aida, about the forbidden love between an Egyptian warrior and a captive Ethiopian princess. …


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A young woman sits weeping in the forest, her hair as long as Rapunzel’s. She is brooding near a small pond into which she has dropped her crown. She does not want the crown back, though. A prince, lost in the forest hunting, comes upon her and is taken aback to find her. He offers to retrieve the crown and questions her as to her origins, but she ignores his questions — replying, but not to what he asked. He tells her she should go with him. Night is falling, after all, and the forest will be cold. Unsure at…


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Photo by Vlah Dumitru on Unsplash

Will Millennials kill opera, too? That’s the question posed in a recent essay for Vogue penned by Millennial Bridget Read. As a fellow Millennial who considers herself a budding opera devotee, I found myself agreeing less with that premise and more with the piece’s conclusion: No, Millennials aren’t necessarily going to kill opera. In fact, we’re likely its next great hope for bringing it into the future and to new audiences.

I think that’s right, and not just because it’s a simple fact that opera’s older fans won’t be around forever. Just as within different religions you see a renewed…


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Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

One of my favorite writerly fantasies is producing a perfect masterpiece following a montage in which I am alternately writing furiously and crumpling up my drafts in frustration until reading that one draft that provides the inspirational breakthrough. A close second is the idea of spending a weekend afternoon working away in a coffee shop to produce a lovely, near-perfect draft of an essay or short story. …


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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

They said e-readers and virtual publishing were going to revolutionize the industry. Now, according to a recent New York Times article, it appears tiny books have arrived on the scene to do the same.

“Dwarsliggers,” as they are called in the Netherlands where they originated, are indeed small compared to regular books — about the size of a cell phone and, depending on the book, only slightly thicker, printed on the thinnest of paper, the kind long used for printing Bibles. These books are printed horizontally so that you read them by flipping pages up, not unlike reading something on…


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Photo by Jongsun Lee on Unsplash

As far as genres go, the novel is a relatively young one. Poetry and drama stretch back to antiquity and beyond, but what is widely considered to be the first novel didn’t arrive on the scene until the Renaissance was starting to draw to its close. This is Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes’ monumental work in both the Spanish and English literary traditions.

Published around the same time that Shakespeare was writing his last plays in England, its importance is not due merely to chronology. You’ll find no shortage of praise for the novel or insight about Cervantes’ influence as…


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Photo by Michael Aleo on Unsplash

About two-thirds of the way into Nancy (2018), the woman who may or may not be the title character’s real mother reads her maybe daughter’s short story and tells her she thinks she has real talent. “You know how to draw readers into your world. … You know how to tell a story.” Her assessment touches on the question that’s been plaguing us as viewers throughout the whole movie. Is Nancy really Ellen and Leo’s daughter, come back after being kidnapped 30 years ago? …

Caitlin Peartree

Aspiring writer interested in the intersection of art, literature, and philosophy.

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