– In what order should you read the Chronicles of Narnia series? John Miller argues at NRO that readers should tackle The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe first rather than The Magicians Nephew which is the first book based on internal chronology. Miller believes that The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe best sets up the series and introduces the reader to Narnia. Reading The Magician’s Nephew first dilutes the power of Lucy’s, and thus the reader’s, experience with finding this alternate world.
– Olen Steinhaurer is continuing his discussion of the role and meaning of Art in novels. In this second part he discusses what differentiates good and bad art. If you are interested, I offered some thoughts on art and novels in this space last month.
– Scott over at Conversational Reading raises an interesting point while discussing self-publishing:
On one hand, greater freedom to publish opens things up to valid viewpoints that haven’t been able to gain acceptance–witness the blogs (well, some of them). But the ability for virtually anyone to be in print contributes to a general decline of respect for the written word (witness the blogs, again).
– This isn’t really book/literary related, but Ross Douthat is probably my favorite blogger. If you aren’t already reading The American Scene, you should be.
– James Bowman on academic literary criticism:
In the arts and humanities, at any rate, the curriculum itself is built around left-wing assumptions — such as, for example, that literature is only worthy of study as the fossil-record of power relationships between oppressors and oppressed in pre-revolutionary societies, including our own. Hence the importance of the great -isms in their critical vocabulary: racism, sexism, capitalism, imperialism, fascism, post-colonialism and that honorary ism, homophobia. All these words are used to describe putatively oppressive relationships which it then becomes the job of the literary critic to tease out of, say, Jane Austen for no better purpose than exposing the fact — which the critic obviously knew before he ever read Jane Austen — that they are there. Who but a true believer would choose to make a career out of such a sterile exercise? By the same token, if you happen to cling to the reactionary belief that Jane Austen has something of interest to say beyond the implied critique of the imperialist-capitalist-racialist-fascist-sexist-post-colonialist-homophobic structures of the power elite of her time, a university is the last place you would go to test it.