Monday, 21 March 2011

Jonathan Franzen's Freedom: A Political and Personal Novel

This morning I finished reading Jonathan Franzen's most interesting--and very long--novel Freedom. It is probably the best fictional rendition of the moral dilemmas that are seemingly endemic in the United States, and is also a fascinating read.

Over the next few days I'm going to be reflecting on both the story and the political and social background of the story. But just to set the stage, here is one of Franzen's zingers.

On the "American experiment of self government": it was "statistically skewed from the outset because it wasn't the people with sociable genes who fled the crowded Old World for the new contientnt, it was the people who didn't get along well with others."
P. 444

The implications for American politics are great: just think of the nastiness of a lot of the Tea Party types, as well as the trouble getting cooperative or collective action started.

Note: for more about Freedom, see this post about strip mining in West Virginia which gives an update on a situation central to the novel: a case of art following life, or life following art?

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