Tobias Gregory

Tobias Gregory teaches English at the Catholic University of America in Washington DC. He is the author of From Many Gods to One: Divine Action in Renaissance Epic.

Don’t break that fiddle: Eclectic Imitators

Tobias Gregory, 19 November 2020

Writers​ imitate their precursors, consciously or not. Nobody starts from scratch. Even the Homeric poems had traditions behind them. To write is to enter a conversation, to make your own reading into a usable past, to choose the literary company you seek to join, or to beat. A writer, Saul Bellow said, is a reader moved to emulation. The question is not whether to imitate, but what to...

Montaigne​ presents an unusual case for a biographer: since his essays are full of personal details, his readers feel that they know him well already. He tells us that he lacks the impulse to cuddle babies, that he can scarcely tell the cabbages from the lettuces in his garden, that he loses and regains his temper quickly, that he enjoys sex only before going to bed and never standing up,...

Lecherous Goates: John Donne

Tobias Gregory, 20 October 2016

‘He affects​ the Metaphysics,’ Dryden wrote of John Donne, ‘not only in his satires, but in his Amorous Verses, where Nature alone should reign; and perplexes the Minds of the Fair Sex with nice Speculations of Philosophy, when he shou’d ingage their Hearts, and entertain them with the softnesses of Love.’ He didn’t mean this as a compliment. When Dr...

By All Possible Art: George Herbert

Tobias Gregory, 18 December 2014

For​ the gospel message to come as good news, one must first be convinced of some really bad news. This bad news is not obvious, and the devout must work hard to keep it vivid in the minds of their children, their neighbours and themselves. That each of us does a mix of good and bad things is uncontroversial. But to declare the bad and not the good fundamental to human nature, call it...

They rudely stare about: Thomas Browne

Tobias Gregory, 4 July 2013

It is still often proposed that religion and science need not conflict. Stephen Jay Gould held that they occupy ‘non-overlapping magisteria’: science deals with questions of fact, religion with questions of value and meaning. This is wishful thinking, because religions base themselves on factual claims. The god Yahweh promised the land of Canaan to Abraham and his descendants;...

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