Anthony Esolen

Dr. Anthony Esolen is the author of 28 books on literature, culture, and the Christian life, whose most recent work is In the Beginning Was the Word: An Annotated Reading of the Prologue of John. He and his wife Debra also produce a new web magazine, Word and Song, devoted to reintroducing people to the good, the true, and the beautiful. He is a Distinguished Professor at Thales College

Books by esolen

recent articles

Building

Pagans without Nature

Sometimes I think that a people more starved for beauty has never walked the earth. And it is a scandal that our Church does not help. We talk, for example, about “the planet,” but not about woods, hedgerows, small streams, sparrows, badgers, rocks, and moors. The poet Wordsworth could sense, in his memories of the … Read more

Boys

Boys to Men

Many years ago, in an article for Touchstone called, “A Requiem for Friendship,” I wrote that the public acceptance of homosexuality would cast suspicion on physical expressions of friendship among males, and would make it more difficult for boys to forge strong friendships in the first place, especially if such boys were shy, or not … Read more

My New Year’s Resolution

Grace builds upon nature, and perfects it. But what if the foundation of nature is missing? I look out of the window to the broad stretch of open yard behind our house. It is covered with the snow we got last week. If you stand in it, and look at it in the light of … Read more

Finally, the Bishops Talk Sense About Hymns

It is axiomatic that nothing well-written ever comes from a committee. So, I regard as miraculous the recent report, Catholic Hymnody at the Service of the Church, put forth by the doctrinal watchdogs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. It is incisive, intelligent, and precise, blessedly free of political correctness, and sensitive to … Read more

The Suicide of a Civilization

Suppose an anthropologist were asked, apart from the sound and fury of current politics, what were the signs of a dying culture, or a culture committing suicide? What might he respond, as following from human nature and from the terms of the question itself? What might he notice in our own? Such a culture would … Read more

‘Platonic Parenting’ and the War on Love

The latest step of our descent into selfishness and perversity is a trend called “platonic parenting.” A woman finds a stud male who is pleasant enough, who will be her “friend,” who will make no claims upon her, so that he can get her pregnant and they can raise the resultant experiment together while they … Read more

Thank You, Mr. President

In my last article, I wrote that I would soon cast a vote against the party that promises to persecute the Church, and to subjugate all her schools, colleges, and beneficent organizations to an ideology that is fundamentally inhuman. I said also that that was no ringing endorsement for the other party. Several readers accused … Read more

Persecution? Bring It On

As our readers must know, Amy Coney Barrett, whom President Trump has nominated for a position on the Supreme Court, was a long-time member of a charismatic and ecumenical Christian group called People of Praise. The women in the group are called handmaids, after the world-changing fiat of Mary: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be … Read more

The Poorest of the Poor

The Lord has commanded us to assist the poor. This is not an option. How shall we do it? One of the paradoxical results of obsessive political agitation is that it makes political discussions almost impossible. Imagine someone on a sickbed, afflicted with a disease that makes the lightest touch upon the skin feel like … Read more

Security and the Sneak

Events over the last eight or nine years at my old place of work, Providence College, as well as events that have recently broken out in a new rash of the disease, have caused me to try to understand what makes someone a sneak, and what that might have to do with mob politics—with losing … Read more

On Speaking Ill

The following is from Alessandro Manzoni’s Observations on Catholic Moral Teaching (1819). The translation is my own. If we followed its wisdom, our politicians would have more freedom to attend to their business, social media might become social, and our churches might become hotbeds of charity. What is the main and common motive that makes … Read more

Why Do Young People Leave the Faith?

Why do young people leave the Faith? I was asked that question the other day, and I replied, off the cuff, that it was two things: Their imaginations had not been formed by the Faith and our magnificent heritage of arts and letters, and they wanted to have sex. Most of the reasons that people … Read more

We Need More Patriarchy, Not Less

“The use of Fashions in thought,” says Uncle Screwtape the astute, “is to distract the attention of men from their real dangers.” So, for example: We direct the fashionable outcry of each generation against those vices of which it is least in danger and fix its approval on the virtue nearest to that vice which … Read more

Cleaving the Body

People who read Dante for the first time may well be surprised that of the two great ways to embrace what is evil—as opposed to loving what is good but in an evil way—the poet says that fraud is worse than violence. This is because violence suppresses or negates what separates man from the beasts, … Read more

How Might We Heal Our Nation?

I have been reading the works of Saint Hildegard (1098–1179), the visionary mystic, naturalist, scriptural exegete, artist, and musical composer. In one of his weekly audiences, Pope Benedict XVI recommended her to us for her remarkable meditations upon the Word made flesh, which made manifest what she called the “greenness” of the Father’s power, and … Read more

‘Here Let Dead Poetry Rise to Life Again!’

De mortuis nihil nisi bonum. Ray Repp passed away several days ago. Every Catholic of my age will remember that suddenly we had songs to sing at Mass that were composed by people of our own time, who seemingly had come out of nowhere. These songs were called, generally, “folk” songs. There were two reasons for … Read more

Hatred Comes First

Hatred comes first, and reasons follow after. In our time, from what I can see, political hatreds are the worst, because they are proof against any appeal to real things. Realities have receded, and the phantoms of imagination, of mass entertainment and its passions, rush in to take their place. Let me explain. We used … Read more

Waiting for the New Jerusalem

A few years ago, in Defending Marriage: Twelve Arguments for Sanity, I wrote that the recognition of same-sex pseudogamous relations—the acceptance of a lie, that a man can in fact mate with another man, or a woman with a woman—would make it even harder than it already is for us to see that man is made for woman … Read more

Male and Female He Created Them. And for a Good Reason

It has been just six years since I wrote Defending Marriage: Twelve Arguments for Sanity, warning against the fantasy that two members of the same sex can marry one another, when they cannot even have sexual relations but can only mimic them. I founded my arguments not upon Scripture or the teaching of the Church—indeed I did not … Read more

Why Boys Are Failing

When he was 13 years old, a mere boy was effectively the American ambassador to Russia, in Saint Petersburg. This was because the lad was fluent in French while his nominal superior, the ambassador himself, was not. The boy had already, at his father’s instruction, translated works of Plutarch from Greek and poems by Horace … Read more

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