Thursday, April 20, 2023

"There is always something"

Michael Dirda, one of my favorite book reviewers, has returned after a lengthy "spring break" during which he was not exactly relaxing. Something he wrote yesterday is related to the recent debates about "updating" books:
.... Back around 2016, I signed a contract for an appreciation of popular fiction in Britain during the late 19th and early 20th centuries — and badly miscalculated how much time the project would take. Moreover, writing the book grew unexpectedly tricky because several of the authors occasionally employed language or displayed attitudes that were, shall we say, of their period. Nonetheless, H. Rider Haggard, Rudyard Kipling, Edith Nesbit, H.G. Wells, Baroness Orczy, G.K. Chesterton, John Buchan, Rafael Sabatini and even Sax Rohmer, among a score of others, were — and are — thrilling storytellers, as well as the founders of our modern genre literatures. That’s why they deserve rediscovery and nuanced appreciation, despite their faults. Besides, if you live awhile and read a lot of history and literature, you come to recognize a harsh truth memorably enunciated in Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men. When Willie Stark wants to dig up dirt on a famously upright judge, he tells an incredulous Jack Burden: “Man is conceived in sin and born in corruption and he passeth from the stink of the didie to the stench of the shroud. There is always something.”
Michael Dirda, "Vacation’s all I ever wanted. But books were all the escape I needed," The Washington Post, April 19, 2023.

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