Recent Articles on Books, Authors, and All Things Literary
Because literature reflects the culture that produces it:
Five years after the popular uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and elsewhere, a bleak, apocalyptic strain of post-revolutionary literature has taken root in the region. Some writers are using science fiction and fantasy tropes to describe grim current political realities. Others are writing about controversial subjects like sexuality and atheism, or exhuming painful historical episodes that were previously off limits.
Literary critic Jonathan Russell Clark disagrees deeply with:
the implication that criticism is separate from the literature it describes, as if novelists, poets, playwrights, and nonfiction writers were the players in the game and we critics merely the referees. What’s intimated in many defenses of criticism is this gap between observer and observed, between artist and non-artist.
You’ve no doubt heard that offensive adage, “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” In literary circles that’s often amended to, “Those who can, write books. Those who can’t, become critics.”
Here Clark insists on:
criticism’s inclusion as a genre of literature, and not as a subject that stands outside of it. When viewed as a separate entity, criticism becomes this Big Brother-like authority ready to pop up and take down any unsuspecting artist; it turns criticism into a practical evil that published authors must suffer through; and it devalues the work of those who became critics because they love literature and they love to write.
Critics have honed their love of literature and their skills in reading and writing as much as have the authors of the books they critique, and they deserve to be acknowledged as writers in their own right.
I had not heard of The Gilmore Girls until recently, and then suddenly I came across three or four references to the show. Since I believe in such synchronicities, I think I must now look for the show on Netflix or Amazon Prime.
But for those of you who are already Gilmore Girls fans, here are some reading suggestions from Amber Brock, a teacher of British literature.
Mark Haddon’s novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime was a big hit with one of my book groups when we read it shortly after it came out in 2003. The protagonist of the novel is a young man with autism, and the book’s presentation of his point of view was riveting and informative.
Although still primarily associated with his most famous work, Haddon has published three books since, which you can read about here.
“My daughter has proved to be cunning and manipulative—I couldn’t be more proud.” This loving adulation is spoken by Lady Susan (Kate Beckinsale) near the end of Whit Stillman’s fifth film, Love & Friendship, which chronicles the conniving successes of a widowed woman set on finding the perfect match for herself and her daughter. An adaptation of one of Jane Austen’s lesser known works, the novella Lady Susan, here Stillman has found his ideal match in the 18th century novelist: both revel in the gentle mockery of bourgeois social norms through the comedy of manners.
© 2016 by Mary Daniels Brown