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

John Irving is one of my favorite authors of all times. I first read “The 158-Pound...

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.

See John M. Robson, “ ‘Joint Authorship’ Again: The Evidence in the Third Edition of Mill’s ”  VI (Spring, 1971), 18-19.
In the novel written by John Irving, A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY, the protagonist, Owen Meany, developed an unusual religious significance.

prayer for owen meany essay prompts prayer for owen meany essay ..

In “Recent Writers on Reform” Mill examined the ideas of three contemporary writers on parliamentary institutions in the 1850s, selected for their distinction and the importance of their ideas: John Austin, James Lorimer, and Thomas Hare. Austin had been one of Mill’s oldest friends, under whom as a youth he had studied law, and whose ability he greatly admired. Yet Austin, although a disciple of Bentham, had in later years become conservative and estranged from Mill, who in particular was disturbed by his vehement criticism of the French revolutionary government of 1848. In his Austin displayed a hostility to further parliamentary reform in the conviction that it was likely to destroy the delicate balance of the existing constitution and the appropriate attitudes of mind which facilitated its operation. The constitution, he believed, combined democratic and aristocratic elements. The electors were a democratic body, while the elected in the main constituted a remarkably skilled, devoted, and aristocratic governing class, who throughout a long span of time had acquired and were still able to apply the arts of ruling a country they understood.

In the novel, A Prayer for Owen Meany, written by John Irving, the characters all show some sort of notable identity.

A Prayer for Owen Meany - Discussion Questions

Irving is much more aware of the world outside America than most of our writers are. All of his novels have significant sections set abroad. He does a remarkable factual job conjuring up Vienna in Garp and in The Hotel New Hampshire, and conjuring up Toronto and the Nordic countries in his 2005 novel . An unnerving book, Until I Find You is the story of a reverse Humbert, sexually initiated as a boy and then attracted to older women throughout his life. For years, Irving said he planned to write a contemporary version of , the Turgenev novella in which a young man discovers that his older lover is his father's mistress. I never understood why Irving would want to construct one of his big, expansive works around the tight kernel of Turgenev's story, but Until I Find You seems to be the remarkable outcome of that desire. It's not like anything else Irving has done, and its detailed knowledge of cities like Copenhagen and Stockholm puts the American chapters, and the American protagonist, in a greatly enlarged context; you would think Wolfe, with his idea of literature as an exploration of individuals in their broader environments, would appreciate this. Among young European novelists, at any rate, Irving is influential in a way that hasn't always been noticed in his home country. , for instance, the first novel by the terrific new Dutch writer Tommy Wieringa, is shaped as much by Wieringa's admiration for Irving as A Prayer for Owen Meany was shaped by Irving's admiration for and .

04/02/1996 · Essays and criticism on John Irving - Irving, John (Vol. 112)

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The conflict between Alan Shepard, who best fits the traditions of the right stuff, and John Glenn, who best fits the interests of the media, becomes more enlightening and byzantine as the Mercury program continues. Faced with the challenge of differentiating among the pilots (similar to a war novelist's challenge of differentiating among soldiers), Wolfe tackles the problem the hard and honorable way. Each of the main pilots is meticulously and abundantly created, without settling for the mere backstop of caricature. Yeager, the established Edwards champion, is such a strong figure that he has stepped out of the book and become a byword for the right stuff in our national culture. Shepard wins the first Mercury space-shot, and his sly, matter-of-fact sense of humor irradiates his mission, from his pissing-in-my-spacesuit misadventure on the launching pad to his prayer of "don't let me fuck up!" to the letdown of the gray-filtered view from the porthole of his capsule. Glenn, the earnest goody-goody, alienates the other pilots with his refusal to play by some of the right stuff's rules. He then astonishes his rivals with his press-conference showmanship and with the success and professionalism of his performance in space. (People who defy their peers' assumptions and expectations seem to give Wolfe's writing an extra snap of inspiration.) Gus Grissom, progressively grim and uncommunicative, makes a mess of his own mission: he's caught between the media efforts to uphold his reputation and his knowledge of his failure within the right stuff fraternity. Even a secondary character, the lighthearted Gordo Cooper, begins to jump off the page once he's forced to take control of his spacecraft and pilot it manually for an eyesight-lined reentry. The reentry brings the story to an exuberant climax. It's a triumph for the old code, the first time anyone has a chance to exercise the essence of the right stuff as an astronaut.