Saturday, May 05, 2007

Mr. Sammler's Planet

There is something crude, dirty, and empty about literature which is deliberately philosophical. It does not appeal to the emotions. There is no pull to it. After reading the first paragraph of Mr. Sammler's Planet I was already annoyed and bored:

"Shortly after dawn, or what would have been dawn in a normal sky, Mr. Artur Sammler with his bushy eye took in the books and papers of the his West Side bedroom and suspected strongly that they were the wrong books, the wrong papers. In a way it did not matter much to a man of seventy-plus, and at leisure. You had to be a crank to insist on being right. Being right was largely a matter of explanation. Intellectual man had become an explaining creature. Fathers to children, wives to husbands, lecturers to listeners, experts to laymen, colleagues to colleagues, doctors to patients, man to his own soul, explained. The roots of this, the causes of the other, the source of events, the history, the structure, the reasons why. For the most part, in one ear out the other. The soul wanted what it wanted. It had its own natural knowledge. It sat unhappily on superstructures of explanation, poor bird, not knowing which way to fly."

This was written by a man who won the Nobel Prize of Literature, Saul Bellow. Perhaps literature is so starved for writers who reference philosophy that they'll accept even shoddy philosophy/literature.

Needless to say, I won't be finishing this book.

"People can lose their lives in libraries. They ought to be warned."
- Saul Bellow


Anonymous said...

If the writing style is not to your liking, you are right not to finish. To critique the underpinnings of the book without actually reading it smacks of arrogance and ignorance.

undergroundman said...

If you can't write a decent introduction (I actually did read the first ten pages, in which a black pickpocket exposes himself in public), then you better believe that I will call you a bad writer. Sorry bud.

Anonymous said...

I don't trust a sociopath to give me literary criticism.

undergroundman said...

No offense, but I'd prefer that you made your own opinions anyway. You can read the book and agree or disagree. It really doesn't matter all that much to me.