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From the archives

Pax Atlantica

NATO’s long-lasting relevance

The Melmac Years

My peculiar resin d’être

Andrew Benjamin Bricker

Andrew Benjamin Bricker teaches literary studies at Ghent University. He wrote Libel and Lampoon: Satire in the Courts, 1670–1792.

Articles by
Andrew Benjamin Bricker

Bear in Mind

A comedy of errors June 2024
It began innocently enough, a fun evening with my new Belgian colleagues at the local Irish pub for drinks and trivia. It ended with me standing bare-assed in front of them, exposed as the literary historian who didn’t know his Bard. “O, I have lost my reputation!” I lamented quietly in the grey night, like some Flemish…

They Bred Raptors

How basketball won over a hockey town March 2024
On June 24, 1995, the newly founded Toronto Raptors selected B. J. Armstrong as the first pick of the NBA expansion draft. On the surface, the twenty-seven-year-old point guard was an ideal choice in the draft, which allowed the league’s newest franchises to select “unprotected” players from existing teams to build out their rosters. Armstrong had just entered his basketball…

Ho, Ho, No!

There arose such a clatter December 2022
The first time I saw him was a shock. I was out for a weekend walk one December afternoon in Ghent, the mid-size Belgian city where I live. Ghent is a bit of a liberal oasis in Flanders, where a troublingly high and growing number of Flemish parliamentary seats are held by the N-VA, an odious conservative…

Buzz Words

Leave us not honeyless November 2021
In Flanders fields, where the poppies blow, bees also like to hang out. But in Belgium and elsewhere, those pollinators are having a tough run. “Colony collapse disorder” is a now familiar if still terrifying term of art; “Israeli acute paralysis virus” is newer, but it hardly makes one warm in the heart. Other basic challenges are omnipresent and perhaps more…

Quarantine Diaries

One day more, then another May 2020
March 1. The first case of COVID-19 appeared in Belgium on February 4, in Brussels. I live in Ghent, about fifty kilometres away. The pandemic begins today, however, when a bunch of Belgians return home from a skiing vacation in northern Italy. I think of Daniel Defoe, writing in 1722: “It matter’d not, from whence it come; but all…

Broken Spines and Other Sins

Our complicated relationship with books January | February 2020
In 2016, while on the presidential ­campaign trail, Donald Trump explained to the Washington Post that he doesn’t read because he is “always busy doing a lot.” You could almost hear the eyeballs hitting the floor as they rolled out of the heads of bibliophiles the world over. Unsurprisingly, Trump’s elective illiteracy was taken as a sure sign of his philistinism — just one more piece of evidence that he was unfit for executive…

The Moral Quandary of Commas

Wringing our hands over matters of style September 2019
Early on in Dreyer’s English — the bossy style guide of Random House’s copy chief — Dreyer tells a gossipy story about a fancy garden party at the Upper East Side townhouse of an unnamed novelist and her famous husband, a director. There he meets the Tony Award–winning Australian actor Zoe…