It operates as a refuge for a civilizing element in short supply in contemporary America: honest criticism
After my own heart: Dorothy Sayers's feminism
by Susan Haack
Reflections on Gaudy Night, the philosophical novel, and old-school feminism.
was right!Support The
Lord, teach us to take our hearts and look them in the face, however difficult it may be.
Gaudy Night (1935)
Might as well admit it: once upon a time, disinclined to mix business with pleasure, I found the very idea of the Philosophical Novel off-putting. It was Alison Luries Imaginary Friends, a deliciously comic exploration of cognitive dissonance and of the pitfalls of social-scientific inquiry, that changed my mind and persuaded me of the merits of mixing pleasure with business. I began to appreciate how a work of fiction may explore philosophical questions and by means of statements which, being about fictional characters, are not trueconvey philosophical truths; and I soon began to acquire a taste for (not the epistolary but) the epistemological novel.
In this genre, I have a particular admiration for Samuel Butlers ...
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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 19 May 2001, on page 10
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