Prufrock's Page

Monday, January 14, 2008


Reviews of Martin Amis' views on a post-9/11 world, The Second Plane, are being written, and all of them will, inevitably, mention Terry Eagleton. Such as this one (forgive the long extract, but something like this will be at the heart of all discussions of the book): "One of the arguments that runs through this book is that barbarism is all but indistinguishable from religion and that the opposite of religious belief is not atheism, but independence of mind. The highest expression of independent minds in western enlightened culture is, to Amis, its literary fiction ('reason at play'). His personal struggle against the 'dependent mind' of Islam is thus fought on the level of playful language.

"For all the verbal thrill of much of this engagement - more than enough to make it essential reading even for Terry Eagleton - there is an undeniable hubris at the heart of it. In equating human value to literary value Amis finds a way not only to place himself on the frontline of the struggle against the forces of darkness, he also comes close to dismissing half the world as morally inferior and psychologically backward without visiting any of it or hearing from any of its citizens."

This, it would appear, is another one of those cases of the reviewer putting words in the author's mouth. Nuance be damned.

Meanwhile, Ian McEwan answers questions after the successful film adaptation of his Atonement. He tells you why he favours 'realism' over 'modernism' and airs his views on blogs: "I don't read the blogs much. I don't like the tone-the rather in-your-face road-rage quality of a lot of exchange on the Internet. I don't like the threads that come out of any given piece of journalism. It seems that when people know they can't be held accountable, when they don't have eye contact, it seems to bring out a rather nasty, truculent, aggressive edge that I think slightly doesn't belong in the world of book reviewing."


  • Wash your mouth out with soap, McEwan.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:22 PM  

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