Saturday, September 22, 2012

Quotation Of The Day: Popular Fiction As An Intellectual Understanding Of American Life

Henry Farrell may not be making a Platonic utterance such as "poetry is nearer to vital truth than history" but he does give a rather ringing endorsement for a popular novelist:
There’s a strong case to be made that [King's]books and stories, taken as a whole, tell you more about the Matter of America than the work of any other living novelist. And they are not only deeply intelligent but politically intelligent. If you want to know what the US was really like under George W. Bush, you’ll probably find out more from reading Under the Dome (which is not even one of King’s best novels) than Ill Fares the Land. The ease with which a slick rightwing populism can slide into something approaching fascism. The ways in which community loyalties can sour politics or redeem them. The intertwining of politics and petty personal jealousies. King gets it all. He has both an understanding of American life that Judt (for his many intellectual gifts) lacked, and the ability to express that understanding in clear, unornamented prose that can speak to millions of people.

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