Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Abe Greenwald and Jonathan Franzen's Failure of Imagination?

Abe Greenwald admits that he hasn't read Jonathan Franzen's novel, "Freedom," but that doesn't stop him from offering a review of Franzen's artistry based on an interview the author gave to The Guardian. It was too filled with liberal pieties for Greenwald's taste:

"Franzen’s failure is ultimately not political but artistic. His realm is the creative, and in parroting those of the most meager imaginations, he has reversed the artist’s aim. Liberalism doesn’t only encroach upon things like opportunity and standard of living. It’s what it does to the self that’s most dangerous and pernicious. It pushes out the individual imagination and replaces it with wooden convictions. Before that wreaks havoc on a polity, it has its way with a mind. For a novelist, this is fatal. And so Franzen, a writer of copious narrative and descriptive gifts, ends up sounding like a 14-year-old who broke up his usual Daily Kos with his first read through Howard Zinn."

I suppose it would be churlish of me to ask that Greenwald actually engage Franzen's art before declaring him an artistic failure? Nah. Liberals fail because they're liberals. Seems like Commentary could use its own version of Ta-Nehisi Coates.

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