William Hazlitt once wrote that the best essayists are those who can “contract or dilate” their attention to see the endless variety in “this huge and proper life,” and then write about it with one stirring quality: gusto. Here, we have a collection of essays with a literary bent—all of them, I am proud to say, written with gusto.
Cait Weighner writes about a visit to her sister’s convent, and how observing the rhythms of religious life prompted her to think more deeply about the ways in which we inhabit time. Amelia Rasmussen reflects on the nature of literature as an art that can transmute “foul” things into “fair,” and Dietrich Balsbaugh offers some thoughts on Christianity from his time spent in Turkey. We have the privilege of publishing Dr. Somerville’s on-campus lecture, “Things Below: Thoughts on the World and Literature,” which will be printed in two installments. To conclude our issue, Mary Kate Boyle considers the importance of place in poetry.
As the semester comes to a close, we tend to batten down the hatches and hole up in corners around campus to memorize towers of flashcards, or wear our fingers raw typing that 2,000-page research paper. Welcome, friends, to reading day, where we re-emerge and discover once again the joys of sunlight, friendship, and a well-deserved rest. This issue is for you, gentle reader. May it find you well.
Anna Payne is a senior studying English and mathematics.