James P. Bernens

James P. Bernens graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University in 2008. He also holds a J.D. from the William & Mary School of Law, and is completing an M.A. in philosophy at Boston College.

recent articles

Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne

Have you ever embarked upon a journey that brought you to some distant or unfamiliar place? Have you ever set out with a bold and cheerful heart, knowing that you were glad of the adventure, but doubting whether any far-off sights could equal the grand images of your dreams? Have you ever endeavored to achieve … Read more

Why Do We Read Good Books?

Not long ago, one of my older essays was published in these pages to counterbalance, and to caution against, the unqualified praise of Flannery O’Connor’s fictional stories. As I expected, a great many O’Connor enthusiasts took exception to my critique. But amidst the ensuing disparagement, the common confusions, and the rebuttals of arguments never made, … Read more

A Caution on the Writings of Flannery O’Connor

Several years ago, I received a volume of Flannery O’Connor’s Complete Stories as the very kind and thoughtful fulfillment of a birthday wish. At the time I knew very little about the content of these writings, but I was enthusiastic to encounter the genius of an author who had been highly praised to me on … Read more

Rudyard Kipling’s “If–”: A Lesson In Manhood

For a particular poem to retain its power across years and generations, it must give expression to something that transcends the passing of time, and do so in such an exquisitely memorable manner that it simply cannot be imitated or remade. Competitors and critics may sally forth and give it battle; lesser authors may adopt … Read more

What Have We Learned from Universities?

The recent news that Pope Francis has appointed a commission of prelates to reevaluate a former Pontifical university in Peru has elicited a few sardonic remarks, and perhaps even some earnest hopes, that the Vatican might take a similarly incisive interest in the condition of certain Catholic institutions in the United States. As unlikely as … Read more

P. G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves Stories

While there is never an unfavorable time to read a good book, there are some works and authors which seem to command our interest at very particular occasions of the year. It is an almost indefinable property which makes it so, an affinity woven into the very fabric of a story; but I imagine that … Read more

The Strength of St. Patrick

In the nave of my parish church, amongst the walls of glittering glass that are as windows unto the Word of God itself, there is an image of St. Patrick. When the morning light filters inward through its translucent shape, every feature of that great saint becomes sharp and distinct. His figure looms there suddenly, … Read more

Tennyson’s Arthurian Legend: Idylls of the King

For many, Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur forms the quintessential retelling of the legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. It is thought that earlier medieval writers, both nameless and named—men like Geoffrey of Monmouth and Chrétien de Troyes, Layamon and Wolfram von Eschenbach—offered worthy contributions in their own way; … Read more

Dickens’ Forgotten Christmas Tale: The Haunted Man

Everyone knows Charles Dickens’ classic holiday story A Christmas Carol. It is, arguably, one of the Victorian author’s most permanent masterpieces, adorning Christmas celebrations in every corner of the English-speaking world, and making the likes of Ebenezer Scrooge and the Cratchit family household names. Modern audiences have seen it adapted for television and film in … Read more

A Noble Imagination: Sir Walter Scott’s Waverley

If you would wish for your children to garner a love and fascination for the good things of God’s Creation, if you would have them embrace adventure, cherish what is noble, honor the poor, and attain to a sincere civility and gentleness, let them read from the works of Sir Walter Scott. Born in 1771 … Read more

Realism in an Age of Relativism

Anyone who has ever seen a painting by J. M. W. Turner knows very well how a stirring spectrum of colors, and the magnificent interplay of light and shade, was employed by that artist to imitate the heartbreaking beauty of the natural world. At times, Turner’s fascination with elaborate skyscapes earned him the rebuke of … Read more

The Ivy League as a Mirror of the World: A Response to Anthony Esolen

Last week, Prof. Esolen reflected on the biases and pretentious political opportunism exhibited by many American elites—particularly those who have brought a sense of exceptional privilege and arrogance to the levers of centralized government. I heartily agree with the crux of that argument, and with the deserved criticism directed at certain renowned institutions of higher … Read more

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