Did I love this book? No. Is it worth reading in the sense that the classics somehow embiggen us? Probably not. Is it a great book? In parts.
Is it intDid I love this book? No. Is it worth reading in the sense that the classics somehow embiggen us? Probably not. Is it a great book? In parts.
Is it interesting well it was for me but I am not easily bored. For most general readers it would be deathly boring.
I liked the book because it is quite mad. It is full of ideas often religious. No nearly always religious. The book is quite obsessed with religion. If you are not from a Christian background this would be quite bewildering.
The biggest part of the book is actually the study of whaling, whales and in particular the the Study of the Sperm whale. At least a third in fact.
This is really " I'm gonna tell you everything I know about whales.....EVERYTHING." And by God he does. How to slaughter them, how their fat is rendered, what they taste like, the difference between whales, the whaling industry, in America, England, Germany, Holland, how the Dutch actually created the language of whaling, why the King of England has first right to beached whales and on and and on and on. This includes ancient whaling and biblical references to whaling.
The reputation of Moby-Dick as the great American novel is probably overrated. In fact I will go so far to say that this novel may be the reason why the bloated novels of DeLillo and Franzen have so much purchase on the American literary public.
If Melville is going to say something profound he telegraphs it before and after. That's not to say that he does not play with the reader. The initial chapter where he meets Queequeg and sleeps with the cannibal harpooner is quite hilarious and yes there is a homosexual subtext. There are a number of stories within stories and even the odd soliloquy or two.
The Language and even the narrative voice changes quite often. This is where the book is superb. When the book hits the heights it is almost on the same par as The King James Bible, Shakespeare and Paradise Lost.
How did it feel to be involved in WW2? This book gives an insight into one mans war namely George Orwell. He of course is not an average or neutral obHow did it feel to be involved in WW2? This book gives an insight into one mans war namely George Orwell. He of course is not an average or neutral observer but to have have someones reactions recorded as they occurred is always more interesting than hindsight or hearsay. Orwell's essays are an absolute pleasure to read. He must be one of the best essayists in the English language. They (the essays) are an exposition of clarity and style which any writer of any kind should have as something to measure them self against. For a man of the left who, while despising Hitler AND Stalin, also was no apologist for the British Empire, Orwell was always picking a political path that while fastidious was also quite trenchant. At one point he characterizes pacifists as fascifists. The book gives many clues to the way his mind was working up to his masterpiece '1984'. ...more
What do you say if you nearly agree with everything in a book? Tony Judt was a Social Democrat and probably one on the left. He flirted and indeed stuWhat do you say if you nearly agree with everything in a book? Tony Judt was a Social Democrat and probably one on the left. He flirted and indeed studied the European strains of Marxism and ultimately found it wanting. This book is a sort of intellectual biography of Tony Judt. It is also a historical examination of the ideas that drove the 20th century. An excellent book but one perhaps that is not for young players. Always intelligent and insightful but also there is a superb explanation of many issues that one felt in ones waters about this very violent century....more
Swift is a satirical genius. There is the obvious satire and then there is the pompous supercilious attitude of the narrator. And is eating babies thaSwift is a satirical genius. There is the obvious satire and then there is the pompous supercilious attitude of the narrator. And is eating babies that much different to starving your Papist tenants with outrageous rental demands? ...more
Why does this site gobble up reviews? A thoughtful analysis of the current state of social democracy. As a respected historian he gives a clear eyed vWhy does this site gobble up reviews? A thoughtful analysis of the current state of social democracy. As a respected historian he gives a clear eyed view of how western democracies have got to the point where politics seems to be about how to apply the free market ever more vigorously to what is left of our societies. There is much to this short book. For instance this is the best discussion I have read about the failure of privatization. In the end he thinks that social democracy can be defensive. We can defend with pride such social goods as free health care. We can remind the body politic of the history of the last 30 years and the over all social fear and dislocation that the Hayek right has inflicted upon the west....more
I am writing this review a week after the terrible massacre in Norway. I may as well reveal myself to be politically a left social democrat. I dislikeI am writing this review a week after the terrible massacre in Norway. I may as well reveal myself to be politically a left social democrat. I dislike political violence left or right. I think it ineffective except in very limited revolutionary situations. I do think that we can reform capitalism until it is a substantially different system. On many issues I therefore disagree with Zizek. He is a Leninist. I am not.
Coincedently I have done a lot of John Gray recently and I find a strange likeness about these two philosophers. I also suspect that Zizek has a grudging respect for Gray.
I like the rambling way, almost free association way that Zizek's mind works. It is however a little hard to keep up. He does write well (mostly) and provocatively. He can descend into some sort of Hegalian speak which only those familiar with philosophy at a tertiary level would understand.
Many times he nails it on the head like his observation about the way the collapse of the secular left in the Muslim world parralleled the rise of fundamentalism. He makes the point that this IS THEIR globalization.
I don't "get" his problems with multiculturism. He thinks it is understandable that the working class of Europe dislike the "other". I agree that a moral tut tutting of the liberal left is no help but the left, the left that is more than buttressing the system, has to be up front about the fact that the "other" is not going away. That the right/capitalism wants migrant labour and then demononises them should be explicitly explained.
These are quibbles though as you read this sort of thing to be challenged and to get glimmers of understanding about the modern worlds predicament.
Convoluted, rambling and often filled with insight. He is just as often pithy but occasionally his ideas sort of run out steam because he just pushesConvoluted, rambling and often filled with insight. He is just as often pithy but occasionally his ideas sort of run out steam because he just pushes them too far. One his most original observations about the power of 9/11 is that IT LOOKED like a catastrophe movie. It's what we thought would happen and then it did in fact happen. Do not read this for a comfortable pat 'left' answer as he is as likely to stick to the left as to the right....more