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literature

Culture/History

Diana Trilling: Guerrilla Feminist

When female biographers examine subjects of the same gender via traditionalist institutions (marriage, motherhood), feminists are quick to blast them for affirming the male stereotype of women writers as being unable to write about anything unconnected to a man. But such a view is a-historical when one is dealing with a subject that did not come of age in the Feminist Movement of the 1960s, and deprives the reader of a kind of guerrilla feminism going on beneath traditional roles. Natalie Robins in this good but often frustrating biography manages to rescue Diana Trilling, Nation reviewer, essayist and one of… Keep Reading

History/Philosophy

What I Like About Edward Gibbon

Edward Gibbon (1737-94) was born into an old and moderately wealthy family that had its origins in Kent. Sickly as a child, he was educated at home, and sent while still a boy to Oxford. There, an illegal conversion to Roman Catholicism ruined his prospects of a career in the professions or the City. His father sent him off to Lausanne to be reconverted to the Protestant Faith. He came back an atheist and with the beginnings of what would become a stock of immense erudition. He served part of the Seven Years War in the Hampshire Militia. He sat… Keep Reading

Culture

The Conflicting Ideology Of Anthony Burgess

Anthony Burgess’ disturbing dystopia, A Clockwork Orange, has been lauded by liberals as exhibit A in how society is to blame for criminals. His thrill-seeking murderer Alex, upon being “cured” of his homicidal tendencies is abused by society when he re-surfaces into the real world. For him to “cope” with this criminal society, the process that cured him is reversed, and the reader is left with the impression that criminal tendencies are the only way to survive in society. But the writer behind this “we’re all to blame” novel was in fact a social conservative. Burgess desired a Catholic monarchy… Keep Reading

Culture

When Diversity Politics Debase Our Books And Minds

Should we judge a book by the content of its pages or by its author’s skin color? Today’s cultural credo, informed by the politics of multiculturalism, demands the latter. High society and academia promote ‘diverse’ authors as an urgent redress for the dominance of straight, white men in the Western literary canon. No sane mind would deny the benefits of studying literature by meritorious authors belonging to varied demographics. But the project of diversification is less interested in encouraging talent, and more focused on redistributing social power, historically enjoyed by white males, to the others. Behind the facade of egalitarianism lies a deeply flawed understanding of how and why the traditional literary… Keep Reading

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