One good reason to look at the past: We tend to think, today, that our lives are hemmed in, small and frustrating. Our only escapes are virtual. The sense of not-living seems to have become increasingly a part of life; most Americans under 30 apparently see themselves as either vampires or zombies. That's where old stories, or stories about earlier eras, can be helpful: They show us that people felt trapped then, too—and without our labor-saving appliances, our deluge of entertainment options, our global means of communication. Seeing the limited options in which a human soul could get caught, half a century or a century ago, makes you feel alive rather... More >>>