The novel keeps on dying and new obituaries come in every day. The most recent, Lee Siegel’s “Where have all the Mailers gone?” (The New York Observer June 22, 2010), shows one more time that to write about the novel today you have to adopt an elegiac tone.
“What? We fought the war for nothing? We suffered so much just for a phantom?”
Are these the furious questions of an anti-war protester? A returning Iraq veteran? A disillusioned President Obama? No --Euripides wrote these lines more than two thousand years ago in his play, Helen, a work that cries out about the tricks played on soldiers by the powerful.
People who cite Derrida often don’t know the work of James Wood and those who love Wood can’t stand Derrida. Why the divide?
Your sister texts you that her daughter’s theater class has been cancelled because of budgetary cutbacks. A colleague from King’s College London writes that his position in Italian Renaissance Literature will be “made redundant” due to low enrollments.
When reality seems overrated, steal yourself into some fiction. At least that was my reaction to David Shields’ much hyped Reality Hunger. A Manifesto (2010).
Gregory Jusdanis teaches Modern Greek literature and culture at The Ohio State University. He is the author of The Poetics of Cavafy: Eroticism, Textuality, History (1987), Belated Modernity and Aesthetic Culture: Inventing National Literature (1991), The Necessary Nation (2001), and Fiction Agonistes: In Defense of Literature (2010), A Tremendous Thing. Friendship from the Iliad to the Internet (2014). He is currently working on a biography of C. P. Cavafy.