J.G. Keely's Reviews > Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
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May 26, 2007

it was ok
bookshelves: contemporary-fiction, philosophy, reviewed, america
Read in January, 1999

This book is a response to the flawed and disappointing underbelly of humanity, revealed for author Bach in Vietnam, the Kennedy assassination, the battles for Civil Rights and Feminism, and the Sexual Revolution. Unfortunately, it is not a work which embraces or explores those changes, but seeks an escape from the difficult questions of the world.

Perhaps it should be unsurprising that the author would want to escape the everyday anxieties which mark the changing world. There is a sort of blind optimism in Jonathan Livingston Seagull, the sort you get when you take ancient and complex philosophy and distill it down into meaningless fluff. It is from this feel-good denial that the whole New Age movement springs, giving hope without guidance, and adding self-help to our self loathing.

The surface of the water seems calm and glassy from afar. The ripples almost insensible. It is tempting to hope that the whirling eddies of hate, the tumult of inequality, and the maelstroms of fear do not persist beneath it. We shall someday find, when we must navigate Scylla and Charybdis, whether we have melted down our statues and our cannons both to build a monument to the lost.
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02/17/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Sutha (new)

Sutha I imagine if the Ancient Mariner had killed the Seagull rather than the Albatross he and we would have been better off for it.


J.G. Keely Yeah, and I bet if he'd worn that around his neck, he could have gotten some free drinks at the tavern.


message 3: by [deleted user] (last edited Sep 20, 2013 02:50AM) (new)

"Unfortunately, it is not a work which embraces or explores those changes, but seeks an escape from the difficult questions of the world."

Ugh, that sounds awful. What prevented you from giving this one star? I don't see the point of writing a novel when the author completely avoids what he's supposed to grasp.


J.G. Keely I guess I didn't give it one star because it's not insultingly bad, just dull and pointless--though perhaps I was too forgiving.


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