Neil Rathmell – writer

150+ essays on literary topics

Category Archives: Literature

Frankenstein meets the Invisible Man

Ralph Ellison’s reputation depends on one thing, Invisible Man, a novel, the only one he wrote, published in 1952. Mary Shelley’s reputation depends on several things: being the wife of … Continue reading

April 7, 2021 · Leave a comment

The unwanted

Kamala Markandaya published her seventh novel, The Nowhere Man, in 1972. The huge success of her first novel, Nectar in a Sieve, published in 1954, had not been repeated and … Continue reading

March 24, 2021 · Leave a comment

How to write a love poem, let me count the ways

Traditionally, a love poem is addressed to the object of the poet’s love. Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?Thou art more lovely and more temperate.Rough winds do shake … Continue reading

March 10, 2021 · Leave a comment

A Journal of the Plague Year

Almost three hundred years after Daniel Defoe published A Journal of the Plague Year, we’re having a plague year of our own. His book was published on 17 March 1722. … Continue reading

February 24, 2021 · Leave a comment

Just an ordinary man

Shakespeare drew on various sources for the plot of King Lear, but what he made of them was a play about growing old, based on people he knew. If we … Continue reading

February 10, 2021 · 1 Comment

Again! Again!

It is a refrain familiar to parents who read bedtime stories to their children. A familiar story can never be heard often enough and must be told as nearly as … Continue reading

January 27, 2021 · Leave a comment

No such thing as Shakespearean tragedy

The best actors  in the world, either for tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historical-pastoral, scene individable, or poem unlimited: Seneca cannot be too heavy, nor Plautus too light. … Continue reading

January 13, 2021 · Leave a comment

Vladimir Nabokov’s way with words

Joseph Conrad, born Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski, is widely admired as a master of English prose, which is all the more remarkable since his first language was Polish and his … Continue reading

December 30, 2020 · Leave a comment

Did Shakespeare believe in fairies?

Fairies appear only twice in Shakespeare’s plays, first in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, an early play, his first masterpiece, then in The Tempest, his last. The plays have a lot … Continue reading

December 16, 2020 · Leave a comment

Rupert Brooke, playwright

Rupert Brooke’s range is wider than he is usually given credit for, both in form and content. Lust, an early poem about sex, consensual or otherwise, begins with the usual … Continue reading

December 2, 2020 · Leave a comment