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Monday, August 16, 2004

Utopia isn't cheap.

Concord in Emerson's day was the closest thing to Lewis Mumford's notion of the ideal community. But Philip McFarland says that Nathaniel Hawthorne moved away for the same reason folks like me don't live there today: "The rent in Utopia . . . was too high."

("Almost paradise," Joshua Glenn, Boston Globe 8.15.04)

Ethics of fiction.

Joshua Glenn also interviews critic James Wood, whose reviews in the New Republic are consistently rewarding. Wood gives a great definition of what I call "moral imagination":

[W]hat I'm most interested in, as a critic, is what we might nebulously call human truth — a true account of the world as we experience it, and of the full difficulty of being in that world. Creating living characters, and writing fiction expressing what Henry James called "the present palpable intimate," entails, for me at least, some kind of morality. Requiring readers to put themselves into the minds of many different kinds of other people is a moral action on the part of the author.

("The morals of the story," Joshua Glenn, Boston Globe 8.15.04)

Copyright © 2004 by Philocrites | Posted 16 August 2004 at 10:32 PM

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