Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Friday, June 22, 2007

But did you read it, sir?

From this morning's WSJ (an article purporting to be surprised that Hitchens' God Is Not Great has been a best seller) comes the following Hitchens quote, "Literature is a better source of ethics and a better source of reflection than our holy texts. People should read George Eliot, Dosteyevsky and Proust for moral leadership."

Sometimes you read things that make you feel someone is overreaching rather pathetically.

Let's start with the truly great writer in the line up: Dosteyevsky. My dear Hitchens: Have you read Dostoyevsky? He is indeed a great source of ethics and reflection, but they are not of the sort you would like. You may tell others to read him, but were he alive he would certainly not tell anyone to read you.

George Eliot? I'm sure that someone out there has received moral and reflective value from Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda. However, I'm also pretty sure that person is either rather odd, or just showing off by claiming to have been so effected. Eliot's a great place to go for Victorian realism, but ethics and reflection? Try T. S. Eliot instead...

And Proust? Now you're just showing off. Proust mainly reflected on... Proust.

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