Wesley Yang, The Souls of Yellow Folk

The Souls of Yellow Folk by Wesley Yang My rating: 4 of 5 stars It was once a pop-socio-psychological commonplace of American foreign-policy commentary that terrorism on behalf of political Islam was motivated less by ideology and more by an intractable reality of gender: young men with no prospects in their societies will inevitably become… Continue reading Wesley Yang, The Souls of Yellow Folk

Robert Pogue Harrison, Juvenescence

Juvenescence: A Cultural History of Our Age by Robert Pogue Harrison My rating: 5 of 5 stars Valor consists in the power of self-recovery, so that a man cannot have his flank turned, cannot be out-generalled, but put him where you will, he stands. This can only be by his preferring truth to his past… Continue reading Robert Pogue Harrison, Juvenescence

More Notes Toward a Manifesto on Modern Fiction

(Continued from here.) Let me invoke again D. G. Myers’s Dizikes Rule, which says that you should avoid reading novels less than a decade old. While there is no need to be religious about this rule, I do not hesitate to apply it to vast door-stoppers; life is too short, and I am still only… Continue reading More Notes Toward a Manifesto on Modern Fiction

“Wash Your Windows”: A Note on Thoreau and the Prejudices of the Present Day

Virginia Woolf, celebrating Henry David Thoreau’s centenary in 1917: Few people, it is safe to say, take such an interest in themselves as Thoreau took in himself; for if we are gifted with an intense egoism we do our best to suffocate it in order to live on decent terms with our neighbours. We are… Continue reading “Wash Your Windows”: A Note on Thoreau and the Prejudices of the Present Day

George Steiner, In Bluebeard’s Castle

In Bluebeard's Castle: Some Notes Towards the Redefinition of Culture by George Steiner My rating: 4 of 5 stars Steiner is a wonderful writer; his prose is rich with allusion, concisely learned, grave in its movements. It does sometimes approach a self-serving melodrama, as James Wood once famously noted; it could stand to be aerated… Continue reading George Steiner, In Bluebeard’s Castle

Élisabeth Roudinesco, Lacan: In Spite of Everything

Lacan: In Spite Of Everything by Elisabeth Roudinesco My rating: 4 of 5 stars First, what is "everything"? And second, how does le maître survive in spite of it? "Everything" for Roudinesco includes Lacan's often obscurantist vocabulary; his late belief in mathematics as the key to formalizing his theories of subjectivity and society; his inability… Continue reading Élisabeth Roudinesco, Lacan: In Spite of Everything