2 -- John Irving: The Dickens Factor
The devotion to literary—or to speak more generally—intellectual power, that prevails in this country, is, in fact, one of the remarkable traits in the national character, and is much more deep and fervent,—whatever our author may think of it,—than that which is paid to wealth. Mere wealth commands in this country,—as it must, and when tolerably well administered, ought to command every where,—consideration and respect, but creates no feeling of interest in its owner. Intellectual eminence, especially when accompanied by high moral qualities, seems to operate like a charm upon the hearts of the whole community. This effect is much more perceptible here than in Europe, where the intellectual men are overshadowed by an hereditary privileged class, who regard them every where as inferior, and in some countries refuse to associate with them at all. The highest professional or literary distinction gives no admission to most of the courts of Europe, and only on a very unequal footing to the fashionable circles. A lawyer or a clergyman of talent is occasionally allowed a seat at the foot of a nobleman’s table, but to aspire to the hand of his daughter would be the height of presumption. At the close of a long life of labour he takes his seat, too late to receive any great satisfaction from his new position, in the House of Lords, as Chancellor, Chief-Justice, or Bishop. Through the whole active period of his life he has moved, as a matter of course, in a secondary sphere. With us, on the contrary, great wealth, the only accidental circumstance that confers distinction, is commonly the result of a life of labour. The intellectual men assume at once, and maintain through life, a commanding position among their contemporaries,—give the tone in the first social circles,—and, at the maturity of their powers and influence, receive from their fellow-citizens demonstrations of attachment and respect, which have rarely, if ever, been shown before to the eminent men of any other country. The Presidentships and the Governorships, the places in the cabinet, and on the bench of justice, in Congress and in the State Legislatures,—the commissions in the Army and Navy,—the foreign embassies,—elsewhere the monopoly of a few privileged families,—are here the rewards of intellectual preeminence. Lord Brougham, though certainly in every way one of the most illustrious and truly deserving public characters that have appeared in England in modern times, has never received from his countrymen any proof of approbation half so flattering, as the sort of civic triumph with which Mr. Clay and Mr. Webster were lately welcomed on their respective visits to the East and the West Mr. Irving, since his late return from Europe, has been the object of more attention of a public kind, than was shown through the whole course of his life to Sir Walter Scott, undoubtedly the most popular British writer of the last century.
A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving Essay
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving Essay - …
Does anything good ever come out of novelists carping at each other? Hemingway is a great writer, but his reputation has been lastingly tainted, and less by the fascinating and tormented machismo of his fiction than by the wild punches he threw at his contemporaries. To hear Hemingway bellow over the supposed personal and literary inadequacies of Stein or Faulkner or Fitzgerald, to read the bullying hostility of and , is to endure all the slop and nonsense he carefully cut out of the best of his published novels and short stories. (Has any writer ever been hurt as much as Hemingway has by the posthumous stir-frying of his art with his leftovers?) Many novelists rig up some simple and crude persona to help promote their work, and part of that persona can involve the equally simple and crude process of cutting down other writers. It's always been that way, and probably always will be. One of the side jobs of criticism is to try to put the cutting-down into perspective, to remind readers just how cheap and unfair novelists can be in evaluating each other. Irving apparently made some hotheaded remarks about Wolfe's writing style on a Canadian TV program, and Wolfe responded by making some hotheaded remarks about Irving's books in Hooking Up. The result is a gossip-lover's spectacle, which is why the gossip-loving Wolfe played it all up so shamelessly. But it's also a spectacle that, for those of us who only came upon it years afterward, seems more farcical than edifying. Wolfe emerges from it all pretty badly, and nowhere worse than in his evaluation of Irving.
Essays academic papers: John Irving
Many of the novelistic strengths that Wolfe attained in I Am Charlotte Simmons have been present in John Irving's work all along. Wolfe's assault on Irving in Hooking Up is childish and inaccurate, and ignores most of what Irving has written.