reviews Gaping at a Shoe Intellectualism in American Literature Nathan oates The Unpossessed, Tess Slessinger, New York Review of Books, 2002, 328 pp., $14.95 All the Sad Young Literary Men, Keith Gessen, Viking, 2008, 256 pp., $24.95 The Lazarus Project, Aleksandar Hemon, Riverhead 2008, 304 pp., $24.95 The Collected Stories, Leonard Michaels, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007, 416 pp., $15.00 Dictation: A Quartet, Cynthia Ozick, Houghton & Mifflin Company, 2008, 179 pp., $24.00 Despite the proliferation of colleges and universities in our country, many Americans regard intellectualism with skepticism and even antagonism. There is something undesirable about intellectualism: the intellectual life is often accused of reifying insular, specialized notions in a way that cuts it off from the flow of everyday experience. Writers, who typically live on the fringes of American life, pushed there in part by society and economics, located there in part by choice, frequently agree with the larger cultural perceptions. In contrast to the numerous intellectual characters found in European Modernism-- Stephen Daedalus and Mr. Ramsay, to name two--American novels tend to focus on less cerebral characters. Perhaps the best-known intellectual in American modernism, Quentin Compson, is fumbling, anxious and suicidal. 160 ThE MIssouRI REvIEW
The Missouri Review – University of Missouri
Published: Jan 14, 2009
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