Wednesday, February 2, 2011

How author/celebrity worship is ruining criticism!

First off, two friends were kind enough to mention that they'd read this blog, so I better start using the spell-check application! I thought it was just my dad occasionally checking, but I'll humor myself into thinking I have a readership and put in a little effort henceforth.

I saved a boatload of time today--instead of retyping all of the relevant passages from Barry Lyndon, I opened the novel up on, (thank God for the 100yr copyright lapse), searched for the passages I'd marked in the book, and copied and pasted them in my 40+ page Word document of Thackeray's original writings I have lined up for my CH 1 rewrite (which should only be 40 pages itself... anyone else seeing my problem here...)  After each passage I made several observations/insights and am nearly ready to start putting this complex jigsaw puzzle together.

On another note, I read Laura Berol's interesting article, "Irish Prisoners and the Indictment of British Rule" which focuses on works by Thackeray and Trollope.  My only concern is that it seems to place the Thackeray and Trollope in the light of champions of the Irish, speaking out against English oppression.  yes, Thackeray's wife was Anglo-Irish and Trollope lived in Ireland working for the postal service and both formed many attachments in the country.  And yes, in novels like Eye for an Eye, Trollope casts the Irish-English problem in the form of two characters, an upper class Englishman and the poor Irish girl he impregnates and won't marry, clearly sympathizing with the Irish position.  But such metaphors cast the Irish as rustic, naive, helpless, etc. Similarly, in Barry Lyndon and the Irish Sketchbook, Thackeray is clearly exploring/questioning the English treatment of both the Irish and Catholics, but he's by no means their champion.

I think this has become a problem in literary criticism: sharp scholars start writing/analyzing such works while already idolizing the author they are considering; instead of reading objectively, they are reading for the purpose of seeing the author as they want to see him/her.  If you told me Mark Twain wasn't even a tiny bit racist or Hemingway wasn't the least bit sexist, I'd ask if we're reading the same books.  Thackeray was torn, and that's what's driving my study and, what I feel, makes him so interesting as an author.  He was torn about his views on Irishmen, Catholics, Jewish citizens, and was pretty much racist towards Indians and Blacks throughout his career, but all of this is an original reflection of British political and social upheaval in the mid-nineteenth century.  Food for thought.... now on to real food... I made lasagna...


  1. Just to let you know, there are several people reading this blog. And I think you could spice it up a bit. For example.......

    I woke up early this morning to get a jump start on my reading for the day. My coffee was strong, I knew it would have me jittery and uncomfortable in no time. I attempted to keep my concentration on my books but my dog was barking insistently at the window again, a common occurrence. He ignored my requests for him to calm down so I made my way to the window rubbing my eyes. There was a frantic gardener outside at our spigot. He was washing blood from his hands, I could see it was deep under and around his finger nails. He was slowly bleeding from his neck but obviously to preoccupied to feel the pain. I called 911 but the line was busy so I grabbed some bandages from the hall closet and made my way to the front door to aid the injured man but he was already in the house. His eyes were blood shot and he was writhing on the floor. Outside I could see what was happening....... The Y2K zombie attack our father had warned us about had finally made its way to the eastern sea board and over to Erie PA.

    or something like that.

  2. Kyle, I just read this message! Apparently I don't understand how blogs work, will definitely make an effort to spice it up! LOL! Enjoy the visit with Mom & Dad!