Category: Arts & Letters (Page 2 of 2)

A Politics of Ice and Fire

By: Lewis Slawsky

There are many reasons that G.R.R. Martin’s fantasy epic, A Song of Ice and Fire, has been such a tremendous popular and critical success. Here is just one reason, but a major one – A Song of Ice and Fire is an eminently political piece of literature.

Discussion is Coming!

Over the next few months, we are going to examine the political insights of A Song of Ice and Fire through a series of character studies. Join us!

Why character by character?

Find details, and all the articles in the series here.

The beating heart of the story is the seemingly endless number of political moves made by various parties as they seek power. This is the action that gives its name to the first book in the series, A Game of Thrones.

Now, A Song of Ice and Fire is not political in the sense of partisanship or ideology, although these things can indeed be found among the panoply of groups and individuals within the context of the books. This fact alone makes it a valuable work of literature, in these days of big party politics and entrenched partisan commitments. But A Song of Ice and Fire is political in the broader sense of politics – the series is concerned with how human beings choose to live together or how they are compelled to do so. It is concerned with questions of power: who rules, in what manner, on what basis, and what the effects of power are on both the rulers and the ruled.

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Discussion is Coming!

Over the next few months, we are going to examine the political insights of A Song of Ice and Fire through a series of character studies. Join us!

Read More

Medieval Heart, Postmodern Mind – Umberto Eco (1932-2016)

Howl of the Day: Feb 23, 2016

It was a week of dying for remarkable people.

The U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia, passed away on February 13th, to be followed just six days later by both the novelist, Harper Lee, and the Italian thinker and writer, Umberto Eco.

Each of these individuals is surely due their tributes, but this one is for Eco, a man whose fertile imagination and wide-ranging labors were with few peers in today’s world. Born in the Piedmont region of Italy, Eco would, over the course of his life, make many and numerous contributions to literature, as novelist, essayist, and critic, to the university, as teacher, scholar, and even founder of a department for media studies, and to thought on such subjects as semiotics, philosophy, art, popular culture, and communication. His was both a deep and an industrious soul – a rarity.

It seems that there was also a riddle at the center of Eco’s existence, one that in the mentioning of it might serve as a fitting way to commemorate him.

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Realism in Fantasy, Concerning George R. R. Martin

By: Ned Fichy

George R. R. Martin’s fantasy saga, A Song of Ice and Fire, has drawn as much interest as any literary project of recent memory. For good reason. Mr. Martin is a powerful writer and he tells compelling tales. He is good enough at what he does – and what he does is itself a rare enough thing – that it seems appropriate to call him an artist, and to consider his works as art rather than just entertainment.

For artists, the stakes are higher, and in Martin’s masterpiece they are high indeed. His project is to recast the world of fantasy in a realistic manner. And, indeed, the realism of his saga is one of its most compelling features.

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