Archive for the ‘author’ Category

The Culture Alliance’s latest in its work fostering a culture of liberty and personal responsibility in America brings readers news, opinion, reviews and excerpts from the world of popular fiction.

On Friday of each week, subscribers to TCA’s Weekly Update will receive the latest in reviews, excerpts, news and opinion concerning the world of novels and short stories. American society is besieged by a plethora of fiction tending to promote the modern zeitgeist – a relativistic, secular, antinomian worldview. TCA’s Fiction Friday is inspired by the idea that a culture of liberty will flounder without a well-nourished moral imagination.

Citing Russell Kirk’s essay “The Age of Sentiments,” Vigen Guroian writes,

Kirk advanced further his thoughts on the crisis of the moral imagination. In this intriguing essay, he argues that the Age of Discussion, which grew from the Enlightenment and earmarked modernity, is all but over. We are entering a new era in civilization, Kirk advises, where sentiments rule—indeed, we are entering the Age of Sentiments. And this momentous shift in mind and sensibility requires new cultural strategies for the nurture of the moral imagination.

Nothing enriches the moral imagination like a good story. T. S. Eliot noted, in his essay “Religion and Literature,”

The author of a work of imagination is trying to affect us wholly, as human being, whether he knows it or not; and we are effected by it wholly, as human beings, whether we intend to be or not. I suppose that everything we eat has some effect upon us other than merely the pleasure of taste and mastication; it affects us during the process of assimilation and digestion; and I believe that exactly the same is true of anything we read.

He went on to note that even what some might consider trivial works of pop culture can be the most significant when it comes to influencing our imagination. “I incline to the shocking conclusion,” Eliot wrote,

that it is just the literature that we read for amusement, or purely for pleasure, that may have the greatest and least suspected influence upon us. It is literature we read with the least effort that can have the easiest and most insidious influence upon us. Hence it is that the influence of popular novelists, and of popular playwrights of contemporary life, requires to be scrutinized most closely.

A few will seek out Shakespeare, Dante, Virgil, etc. for their pleasure reading, but when it comes to reading “for amusement” the majority will get the latest bestseller or mass-market paperback.
Therefore, rather than leaving it to the advertising divisions of some New York publishing house promoting work that meets with liberal sensibilities, we wanted to offer readers some alternatives they might have missed. TCA seeks to shed light on that which the publishing worlds’ powers-that-be neglect because it does not fit their presuppositions. We also want those who desire a culture of liberty and personal responsibility to have a reading list that goes beyond the latest polemics produced by Regnery Publishing, Encounter Books, etc. Perhaps, in time, we may inspire those few houses, like Regnery or Encounter to begin feeding their customer’s moral imagination with some well crafted fiction.

TCA’s Fiction Friday inaugural issue included S.T. Karnick’s review of The Red Right Hand, an excerpt from Richard Doster’s latest novel Crossing the Lines, and links to numerous stories from the world of novels and short stories including:

The following from R.V. Young’s, A Student’s Guide to Literature, included in Fiction Friday’s first issue, notes the central role fiction plays in “the transmission of culture throughout the history of Western Civilization”

A successful poem or story compels our attention and seizes us with a sense of its reality, even while we know that it is essentially (even when based upon historical fact) something made up – a fiction. The most memorable works of literature are charged with significance and cry out for understanding, reflection, interpretation; but this meaning carries most conviction insofar as it is not explicit – not paraded with banners flying and trumpets blaring. “We hate poetry that has a palpable design upon us,” says John Keats. The role of literature in society is similarly equivocal. It can be explained simply as entertainment or recreation; men and women have always told stories ans sung songs to amuse themselves, to pass the time, to lighten the burden of “real life.” At the same time, literature has assumed a central place in education and the transmission of culture throughout the history of Western civilization, contributing  a sense of communal identity and shaping both individual and social understanding of human experience. The intimate part played by literature in cultural tradition has been a source of alarm to moralists and reformers from Plato to the media critics and multiculturalists of our own day.

Sign up today and never miss an installment of TCA’s Fiction Friday.


Read Full Post »

There is as much to be learned about the present day by reading what was written years past as there is by reading today’s punditocracy. Case in point:

It is not the specter of totalitarianism which raises its Gorgon’s head in our midst. What we have to fear is a development  which, like inflation, is a creeping process and, as will be shown, is indeed closely connected with the creeping inflation of our times. Security and personal comforts are rated more highly than freedom, law, and personality. That which still goes under the name of freedom is, as often as not, license, arbitrariness, laxity, and unlimited demands. Free people today attach to the word “freedom” any clear meaning which might put them on guard against its demagogic abuse. The individual means less and less, mass and collectivity more and more – and so the net of servitude which hems in personal development becomes ever denser, more closely meshed, and inescapable. The center of gravity of decisions keeps shifting upwards: from the individual, the family, and the small, compact group up to anonymous institutions. The power of the state grows uncontrollably; yet, since powerful forces are at the same time eroding its structure and weakening the sense of community, there is less and less assurance that administration and legislation unswervingly serve the whole nation and its long-term interests. Demagogy and pressure groups turn politics into the art of finding the way of least resistance and immediate expediency or into a device for channeling other people’s money to one’s own group.

Read Full Post »

The Emersonian, all-American individualism of the nineteenth century was destined from the beginning to fail as a creed. In violation of the wisdom of the ages, indeed of simple common sense, it regarded the individual from the ‘I am myself alone’ perspective, thus overlooking the nurturing social contexts in which alone individuality can develop. From Emerson’s self-reliant individual needing nothing but his own inner resources to the desocialized, hedonistic, narcissistic free spirit of the late twentieth century is really not a long journey.

Robert Nisbet, Prejudices: A Philosophical Dictionary, 1982, p. 187

Read Full Post »

“I have sometimes asked Americans whom I chanced to meet in their own country or in Europe whether in their opinion religion contributes to the stability of the State and the maintenance of law and order. They always answered, without a moment’s hesitation, that a civilized community, especially one that enjoys the benefit of freedom, cannot exist without religion. In fact, an American sees in religion the surest guarantee of the stability of the State and the safety of individuals. This much is evident even to those least versed in political science. Yet there is no country in the world in which the boldest political theories of the eighteenth-century philosophers are put so effectively into practice as in America. Only [the philosophers] anti-religious doctrines have never made any headway in [America], and this despite the unlimited freedom of the press.”

Alexis de Tocqueville, The Old Regime and the French Revolution

Quoted in God and the American Writer by Alfred Kazin

Read Full Post »

used-booksConservative book buyers seem to have the attention span of gnat on Ritalin. A radio talk show host’s face on a book’s dustjacket attracts them like bees to pollen. They immediately jump online or rush to a Big Box Bookstore to pick up the latest conservative polemic (and then complain about liberal control of bookstores because they can’t find what they want). Once they’ve had their fill of one title, off they go to gobble up another.

Conservative Publishers, like Regnery, will produce thousands of copies of the latest conservative shot in the punditry wars. More left-leaning Publishing houses (which means almost everyone other than Regnery and Encounter) may be slower in getting titles to market, but one way or another thousands of copies are on bookstore shelves. Eventually, numerous unsold or used copies of these political potboilers end up lingering in remainder and half-price stacks, unread and forgotten. Write a book extolling the virtues of feminized men or do-it-yourself spirituality and, while you may no longer collect royalties on it, you will certainly keep used-book sellers in business. Conservative books … eh, not so much. Are conservaive bookbuyers afraid of used bookstores? (more…)

Read Full Post »

Frankenstein by Bernie Wrightson

Frankenstein by Bernie Wrightson

NRO’s indominatable Kathryn Jean Lopez is dropping little nuggets from Bill Bennet’s list of books every High School student should have read before he or she graduates. The list should not surprise anyone familiar with great literature. I do wonder, however, if there are teachers out there with the spine it would take to get their male students to sit down with Jane Austen’s Pride an d Prejudice.

John J. Miller could make me develop a man-crush, however, with his brief list of Science Fiction books every boy should read. Orwell’s 1984 makes Dr. Bennet’s list, but that is the only work of speculative fiction that is on the list.

Miller notes several SF books he would like to see boys read, includeing Frankenstein, Brave New World, A Canticle for Leibowitz, Fahrenheit 451, and Enders Game. He also gives a nod to The Lord of the Rings. I would love to see a list of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror books that folks think every High School student should read. Think of it as giving these kids Dessert after the necessary eating of Lima Beans and Brussell Sprouts.

I do not think that Dessert can come without the Main Course. I have to confess to skipping far to many of the Main Dishes that Dr. Bennet lists. I know that my love for the written word came not from reading Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man, but from reading H. G. Wells’ The Invisible Man. Might one be more likely to entice young men with Dickens and Hawthorne if these lads know that these Gentlemen of Letters wrote ghost stories?

Something to think about.

Read Full Post »

The greatest minds of a generation gathered to discuss what should be done. A great evil threatens them all; war looms on the horizon, citizens are threatened, some are killed simply because, unknowingly, they were in evil’s path. The thing that those who would do evil most desire sits amidst these great leaders, enticing them, beguiling them, leading them to bicker and argue. While leaders and great minds of the time argue and debate, the least among them stands up and declares, he will do that which no one else seems capable or willing.

Put yourself in the place of the smallest and least among these great people. Would you have that kind of courage? Could you stand before so many who know so much more of the world and its ways than you do and say that you will do what they will not? Would you have the strength of character to carry a burden from which most either withdraw in fear or lust for greedily? Would you be willing to take on this burden and at the same time, acknowledge before all that you do not know how you will accomplish this great task?

These are the questions I ask myself when I watched this scene from The Fellowship of the Ring:

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »