Tuesday, November 06, 2012

The Search for Serious Fiction for Republicans

What else is there, beyond Atlas Shrugged? James McGirk, for the Daily Beast, on other candidates, and why it’s so hard to find good conservative literature.

From the piece...

They might consider Louis-Ferdinand Céline’s Journey to the End of the Night, published in 1932. John Banville declared it “the finest novel ever written by a far-right sympathizer,” and he also wrote the foreword to its new edition. In the book, one Ferdinand Bardamu volunteers to go to war. But he isn’t much of a soldier, let alone a patriot, and he leaves horrified. His impression of the French colonial empire is no better, nor is he fond of Detroit, then a thriving center of industrial capitalism. (Remember those days?) He doesn’t like Paris. He doesn’t like being a doctor. Bardamu doesn’t like much of anything. Though there is nothing especially political about the book, reading it is like experiencing an allergic reaction to modernity. Journey to the End of the Night does not offer readers much more than nihilism as a response to a detestable world. It reads like the caffeinated grousing of a shell-shocked veteran whose ideas are bankrupt yet still has the power of style, the weapon of language and rhetoric. It is hard not be swept up in the intensity of Bardamu’s feelings.
There are plenty of stylish conservatives in the canon. Flannery O’Connor’s short story "The Lame Shall Enter First" uses the idea of an omniscient, judging God to justify intricate shifts of perspective and steep the atmosphere in religious dread. An atheist father invites a troubled teenager into his home to spite his grieving son, and he is punished for it. O’Connor doesn’t waggle Catholicism in her readers’ faces, but she does seem to say, “Believe what you want, but don’t say I never warned you.”

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