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  • The Civilized Reader

    Edited by William and Amy Fahey, The Civilized Reader joyfully reviews classic, good books — books that will enrich the life of your family and the minds of your children.

    September 19, 2013

    Evil Beyond Medieval: Otto of the Silver Hand by Howard Pyle

    by Edward Mordrake

    God has written two books. He wrote the Good Book and the Book of the World; and men cannot understand either one without reading the other. This familiarization and formation begins in childhood through exposure to reality—both the good and…

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    September 12, 2013

    Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: Uncommon Nonsense

    by Emma Fitzpatrick

    Those who seek a profound meaning cloaked within the bizarre and absurd scenarios of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland are sure to be frustrated.  Lewis Carroll was no Tolkien or C.S. Lewis whose works, while they can be enjoyed solely as…

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    August 27, 2013

    Shakespeare’s King Lear

    by Mitchell Kalpakgian

    Lear’s loyal servant Kent advises the king to “see better,” when Lear unjustly banishes his beloved daughter Cordelia for not flattering him with the bombast of her sisters proclaiming they love their father “Dearer than eyesight, space and liberty./ Beyond…

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    August 22, 2013

    Hansel and Gretel—The Fairy Tale School of Fear and Violence

    by Sophie Hileman

    A popular condemnation of Grimm’s Fairy Tales is that they are too violent for children.  Many parents would sooner provide mindless stories with bad art and no story line than something classic like “Hansel and Gretel.”  This is done with…

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    August 15, 2013

    Orwell’s 1984: Are We There Yet?

    by Sean Fitzpatrick

    The second most terrifying thing about George Orwell’s 1984 is the supposition that it is possible to destroy humanity without destroying humankind. The first is how many aspects of our democratic nation resemble his dystopian nightmare. George Orwell wrote 1984…

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    August 5, 2013

    George Macdonald’s The Princess and the Goblin

    by Mitchell Kalpakgian

    The human journey often leads travelers astray who are misled by darkness of the night or by darkness of the intellect. Many who travel lose their way because they wander far from the sources of light, lose themselves in a…

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    August 1, 2013

    Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

    by Edward Mordrake

    The editor was nervous. The novel had to be more vague to avoid a ban. The author protested. Monsieur Hetzel insisted. Monsieur Verne submitted. Neither editor nor author realized that ambiguity would prove the element of infinite appeal in Twenty…

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    July 25, 2013

    Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

    by Stephen Fitzpatrick

    On June 5, 1832, a young Victor Hugo unwittingly found himself in the crossfire between young revolutionary republicans and the French National Guard. He took shelter in a doorway and escaped unharmed but the experience must have made a lasting…

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    July 18, 2013

    The Good Master by Kate Seredy

    by Elizabeth Anderson

    Shelves overflow with Harry Potter, the Twilight series, The Hunger Games.  Repugnant youths pass for heroes; the more bull-headed, the better.  Parents? Pooh.  The modern hero is flirting with pusillanimity should he consult with the pater.  That is, if father…

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    July 8, 2013

    Beyond Newspaper Chewing: Why it Matters What is Read in High School (Part II of II)

    by Russell Kirk

     Editor’s note: The first part of this essay was published in Crisis on July 4, 2013 and can be read here. Whether one’s reading-tastes are developed in the school, the public library, or the family, there are certain patterns of…

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    July 4, 2013

    Beyond Newspaper Chewing: Why it Matters What is Read in High School (Part I of II)

    by Russell Kirk

    In many American high schools, the teaching of literature is in the sere and yellow leaf. One reason for this decay is the unsatisfactory quality of many programs of reading; another is the limited knowledge of humane letters possessed by…

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    June 13, 2013

    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 it with, twelve marbles, part of a jew’s harp, a piece of blue bottle-glass to look through, a spool-cannon, a…

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    June 7, 2013

    Shakespeare’s The Tempest

    by Mitchell Kalpakgian

    Magic (art) is a part of daily life. Whenever parents raise children, teachers educate students, or rulers govern societies, they require the knowledge of the arts that teach these skills. They become magicians or artists by the masterpieces of their…

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    May 28, 2013

    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. That pursuit is scientific pursuit—ever progressing, ever evolving. Scientific evolution, however, should be simultaneous with engendering the responsibilities scientific…

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    May 20, 2013

    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 alive in their warm mothers’girth. Bodies are dead and buried in their cold mother earth. For one, there is the…

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    May 9, 2013

    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 since he left Richmond, Virginia, on September 27th to travel back to his home in New York. His luggage was…

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    May 2, 2013

    “Mending Wall” by Robert Frost

    by Mitchell Kalpakgian

     All I, myself, can do is to urge you to place friendship above every human concern that can be imagined! Nothing else in the whole world is so completely in harmony with nature, and nothing so utterly right, in prosperity…

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    April 15, 2013

    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 Mother Goose lived in Boston or any other place in the world is less of a concern than if…

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    April 11, 2013

    David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

    by Paul Joseph Prezzia

    It is a true truism that art imitates life. We might be struck anew by the freshness underlying this proverb if we consider the type of all imitation, the mimicry of a child. Children immediately fix on an animal’s salient…

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    April 1, 2013

    The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Andersen: A Tale of Resurrection

    by Sean Fitzpatrick

    Just as baptism and burial are seldom associated with one another, neither are a duckling and the Resurrection. The interconnectivity of life and death, however, is paramount to any understanding of Christianity—which understanding is beautifully portrayed in a well-known tale…

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    March 21, 2013

    All Happy Trails Lead West (II)

    by Michael Platt

     Presently we saw a curious thing: There were no clouds, the sun was going down in a limpid, gold-washed sky.  Just as the lower edge of the red disk rested on the high fields against the horizon, a great black…

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