Thursday, July 23, 2015

Do we read a novel for its issues, or its treatment of issues?

Our two most recent reading group discussions, in each of which the book tended to prompt discussion of the issues on which it centred, rather than itself as a literary artefact:

Soldiers of Salamis by Javier Cercas

Our archive discussions can be found here and a list of the books we have discussed, with links to the discussions, here

Saturday, July 18, 2015

It's all to do with how we like to see ourselves

Excellent Guardian article by Sarah Churchwell on Go Set a Watchman, newly published and marketed as a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, but which was in fact Harper Lee's earlier attempt at the same book, which an editor advised her to rewrite by concentrating on protagonist Scout's perspective as a child. Churchwell considers and judges various responses to the revelation in GSaW that the anti-racist Atticus of TKaM, Scout's lawyer father, turns out to have been racist after all, and makes the politically and culturally important points that the values of the Atticus of TKaM 'are in fact rather more dubious than the book, or many of its readers, care to admit' and that this new publication highlights the fact that TKaM is a 'consoling, childish, whitewashed fable' - views of TKAM which our reading group ultimately came to when we read it. (You can read our discussion, in which we decided that TKaM was very much how America likes to see itself, rather than a representation of reality, here.)