ELLIOT ENGEL VIRTUAL LECTURE SERIES now available! Recorded live in Summer 2020! Click here for more information

In Plain Engel-ish

Change (The Subject)

I vowed that when I wrote this essay about new years and Januarys, I would not say one word about how horrible 2020 was or how 2021 is bound to be better. We’ve all shared that sentiment far too many times, haven’t we? Enough already! I wished to escape the timely bemoaning here and concentrate on the timeless beckoning of change. The ancient Romans, who named the month of January, certainly recognized it as a time of transition. They named it after Janus, the god who had two faces so that he could look both forward and backward at the same...

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The Green -- And Read -- Balloon

Now that I’ve been on the road lecturing for forty years, I’ve discovered that after my presentation on Dickens, I can usually count on at least two questions being asked. Since my lecture credits Dickens with inventing the mass-market paperback book, the cliff hanger, and the soap opera, there is always someone who will politely but dubiously ask: “Can everything you said really be true?”I’m always delighted with this question because it shows the innate optimism of my audience. Here is someone who seriously doubts that I’ve stayed within the broadest bounds of truth during the lecture; yet by asking...

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Unseen, Unheard, Unforgettable

With the gazillion hurricanes (that’s just a rough estimate) which have plagued this 2020 tropical storm season, I am remembering 1989 here in North Carolina. Actually, the most deadly hurricane ever to strike here was Hazel in October of 1954. But thirty-five years later in September of 1989 Hurricane Hugo terrorized both North and South Carolina and gave me a blind date I shall never forget. When the breath of Hurricane Hugo began blowing toward South Carolina, we in North Carolina began holding ours. As an English professor, I was intrigued by his name since he was the only literary-named...

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Bully For You

I love Charles Dickens not only for creating remarkable characters but also because he WAS such a remarkable character. He and Lord Byron are the two British authors who are known equally as personalities and as writers. And in American literature, Ernest Hemingway stands virtually alone as the single-most important personality in modern American fiction. Granted, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and John Steinbeck all rival him as novelists but certainly not as personalities. Hemingway was even more famous for who he was than for what he wrote. The Hemingway hero in fiction – brave, stoic, aloof, and sensitive –...

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Just My Type

When I was a child I never spent one minute with my father in his workshop. There was no workshop. A complete inventory of the tools in the Engel household: one screwdriver, one hammer, one wrench, and one bottle-opener — all kept in the depths of the kitchen catch-all drawer. Yes, the Engels were so unmechanical that we considered a bottle-opener a tool.But I do vividly remember many times when I was dazzled by my father’s manual dexterity. His instrument was neither a lathe nor a drill; it was a typewriter.My father was an accomplished hunter-and-pecker who combined impressive speed,...

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