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Ed Simon

Ed Simon

Ed Simon is the Editor-at-Large for The Marginalia Review of Books, a channel of The Los Angeles Review of Books. A regular contributor at several different sites, his collection America and Other Fictions: On Radical Faith and Post-Religion will be released by Zero Books this year. He can be followed on Facebook, at his author website, and on Twitter @WithEdSimon.

Sa Ga Yeath Pieth Tow, King of the Maquas by John Simon

Indigenous Kings in Londontown

In 1710, Queen Anne of England feted four Native American dignitaries—would-be political allies. Their presence at a performance of Macbeth caused a stir.
Fernando Pessoa, 1914

“The Poet Is a Man Who Feigns”

Portuguese modernist Fernando Pessoa channeled a grand, glorious chorus of writers—heteronyms, he called them—robust inventions of his unique imagination.
L'Envoûteuse (The Sorceress) by Georges Merle, 1883

Radical Theology: A Syllabus

Radical theology aims to construct revolutionary understandings of myth, ritual, and scripture that speak to the dearth of meaning in our contemporary moment.
Title page for Sinners in the hands of an angry God, 1741

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God: Annotated

Jonathan Edwards’s sermon reflects the complicated religious culture of eighteenth-century America, influenced not just by Calvinism, but Newtonian physics as well.
Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke

Mary Sidney and the Voice of God

Philip Sidney’s attempt at translating the Psalms ended with his early death. Then, his sister took up the cause—and proved herself the superior poet.
T.S. Eliot and Groucho Marx

All Male Cats Are Named Tom: Or, the Uneasy Symbiosis between T. S. Eliot and Groucho Marx

Class and religious differences, among other factors, thwarted the would-be friendship between two cultural titans, suggesting opposites attract, but may not adhere.
Captain Misson, described by Captain Charles Johnson as the founder of a fictional "pirate utopia" called Libertalia or Libertatia.

Return to Pirate Island

The history of piracy illustrates a surprising connection to democratic Utopian radicalism—and, of course, stolen treasure.
Six Tuscan Poets by Giorgio Vasari

The Heretical Origins of the Sonnet

The lyrical poetic form’s origins can be traced back earlier than Petrarch.
Religious candles placed by religious devotees at a Catholic shrine in San Antonio, Texas.

In Defense of Kitsch

The denigration of kitsch betrays a latent anti-Catholicism, one born from centuries of class and ethnic divisions.
John Brown

America, Lost and Found at Wounded Knee

Stephen Vincent Benét’s lost epic “John Brown’s Body” envisions a nation sutured together after the Civil War, but fails to reckon with the war’s causes.
Travels through Virginia. [From Theodor de Bry's 'America', Vol. I, 1590, after a drawing of John White].

The Construction of America, in the Eyes of the English

In Theodor de Bry’s illustrations for Thomas Harriot’s Brief and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia, the Algonquin are made to look like the Irish. Surprise.
Portrait of William Blake, 1807

William Blake, Radical Abolitionist

Blake’s works offer an alternative to the failures of the Enlightenment, which couldn’t muster a consistent argument for abolition.
Ancient Greek funerary naiskos

When Was the First Handshake?

A Curious Reader asks: When and how did the handshake originate?
why US states have straight borders

Why Are U.S. Borders Straight Lines?

The ever-shifting curve of shoreline and river is no match for the infinite, idealized straight line.
French Revolution Calendar

Why the French Revolution’s “Rational” Calendar Wasn’t

What ever happened to "the most radical attempt in modern history to challenge the Western standard temporal reference framework?"
Restoration Poet

The Restoration’s Filthiest Poet (and Why We Need Him)

Creature of the court, royalist and fop, dandy and dilettante, John Wilmot, Second Earl of Rochester, knew how to scandalize with verse.