Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Afterthoughts on Literature is on YouTube at The Humanist Emigree

Afterthoughts on Literature has been dormant for a while because I have opened a YouTube channel where I continue to analyze philosophy and literature, albeit in speech rather than in writing. All but 14 episodes (long episodes) have been translated into English and given subtitles. If you enjoyed my writing, I invite you to subscribe to my YouTube channel, comment and enjoy. Below are links to all episodes with English Subtitles:

Friday, September 7, 2018

Marlowe's Noble Lie

"Would a god be willing to be false, either in word or dead, by presenting an illusion?"

"How, then, could we devise one of those useful falsehoods we were talking about a while ago, one noble falsehood that would, in the best case, persuade even the rulers, but if that's not possible, then the others in the city?"

Plato, The Republic
382, 412b

Thursday, August 30, 2018

First Impressions of Decline & Fall

Related imageOne could be forgiven for supposing that the English are the stupidest most God-awful people on the face of the Earth. Evelyn Waugh may be a satirist, but good satire hits the mark only by being three quarters true. Half-truths are necessary for the preservation of political communities, but when one is at the point of professing three-quarters truths, one has entered upon the collapse of civilizations. That is pretty much what we find going on in Decline & Fall.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

What is the Horror?

Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness does not receive the excited attention that I usually lavish all of my other readings with. This is partly due to the fact that it is generally a shorter book, and one with which I am far better acquainted, having read it in my teenage years for school and pondered it since. The book is also difficult to treat on its own on account of the impact it has had on our wider culture. The poetry of T.S. Eliot, the brilliant analogy to the Vietnam war in Apocalypse Now - all of this is probably why, contrary to my several posts on Nostromo, there will likely be no more than the previous and this current post on Heart of Darkness. Here, I would like to consider for a moment the exact nature of "the Horror."

Monday, August 6, 2018

Heart of Darkness, Heart of Banality

Quite recently, I took it upon myself to read Chesterton for the first time. I had read his introduction to Charles Sarolea's book on Poland, had heard a great deal of him from those with whom I am usually politically affiliated, noted in C.S. Lewis' biography that he had been an influence - in short, it was high time to read Chesterton after years of neglect. The experience was disappointing to say the least. The best that can be said is that the man is quite tautological.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Brideshead & Krasiński's Undivine Comedy

Having returned to Brideshead Revisited a second time, I am amazed at the speed and lucidity with which I have managed to get through Book I. It may actually be a function of the fact that my initial reading was in pdf, whereas now I can enjoy the paper version (albeit in Polish). Certainly Book I still weighs heavily with all of its pomp, pretentious and unbearably English mannerisms, but it seems to go down rather well the second time around.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Poor People, poor taste?

Writing archetypes always risks limiting the appeal of a novel's characters. Of course social novels (let us call them such) aim not so much to follow the fate of individuals as to engage in social commentary. Certainly Dostoevsky's Poor People is often interpreted in this light. Given this, I venture a rather odd question which has sprung to mind as I read the love letters: do poor people have poor taste?

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Between the Fallen and the Flagitious in the work of Ivo Andrić

Ivo Andrić's By the Cauldron is the next installment of this brilliant Southern Slav writer's collection of short stories published in Polish under the collective title "A Southern Vacation." I have never come across a writer capable of presenting a portrait of Islam in such vivid psychological detail, mindful of all of its' subtleties and nuances - all in order to come to the conclusion that it is an irredeemable evil. This is essentially what makes Andrić controversial - and exciting.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

The Demise of England in Brideshead Revisited

Image result for waugh bridesheadThe inclination to return and finish Brideshead Revisited was always there, awaiting the proper motivation to spark it into action. Writing my preliminary reviews of the first 100 pages, I fully understood how unfair I had been to Waugh, though it was more a case of hating the message, not the messenger. Initially I had compared the message of Brideshead to that of Helena and found the former inferior to the point of irrelevance. Only now do I realize that it was inadvisable to make such a comparison as though between two autonomous histories, for they are but acts in a larger drama which Waugh unfolds before our eyes: the tragedy of the collapse of Catholic England.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Revisiting Brideshead Revisited: Thoughts on English Catholicism

Image result for brideshead revisited book IFinally, I have broken through my initially painful aversions and revisited Brideshead Revisited after finding the first 100 pages of the book utterly tormenting for a multiplicity of reasons elaborated upon in earlier posts. Upon completing Book I, with the pleasant notion that our Catholic hero is off to explore Orthodox relics, I am firmly well pleased with the work - now.