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One Purpose of School

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As with so much of Huxley's later fiction, one is not sure whether or not to call this book a true novel. It is less concerned with telling a tale than with presenting an attitude to life, it is weak on characterization but strong on talk, crammed with ideas and uncompromisingly intellectual. Huxley shows us an imaginary tropical island where the good life can be cultivated for the simple reason that the limitations and potentialities of man are thoroughly understood. He presents a conspectus of this life, ranging from modes of sexual behaviour to the technique of dying. Nobody juicy couture outlet is scientifically conditioned to be happy: this new world is really brave. It has learned a great deal from Eastern religion and philosophy, but it is prepared to take the best of Western science, technology and art. The people themselves are a sort of ideal Eurasian race, equipped with fine bodies and Huxleyan brains, and they have read all the books coach outlet online that Huxley has read. For forty years his readers forgave Huxley for turning the novel-form into an intellectual hybrid -- the teaching more and more overlaid the proper art of the story-teller. Having lost him, we now find nothing to forgive. No novels more stimulating, exciting or genuinely enlightening came out of the post-Wellsian time. Huxley more than anyone helped to equip the contemporary novel with a brain All this sounds like an intellectual game, a hopeless dream in a foundering world, but Huxley was always enough of a realist to know that there is a place for optimism. Indeed, no teacher can be a pessimist, and Huxley was essentially a teacher. In Island the good life is eventually destroyed by a brutal, stupid, materialistic young raja who wants to exploit the island's mineral resources. The armoured cars crawl through, the new dictator makes speeches about Progress, Values, Oil, True Spirituality, but "disregarded in the darkness, the fact of enlightenment remained". The mynah birds fly about, crying the word that means enlightenment: "Karuna. Karuna."The heroine is a novelist suffering from "writer's coach outlet block" (an affliction that her creatrix seems never to have known, judging from the bulk of her output). Instead of attempting a new novel, she fills four notebooks with four kinds of observation, though her preoccupations are twofold -- with the Communist movement in the nineteen-thirties (she became a Communist in South Africa because only the Communists seemed to have prada outlet any "moral energy") and the emergence of the "free woman". She is close to the Martha Quest of Mrs Lessing's pentateuch Children of Violence in spirit and ideals, though she is duller and more humourlessly earnest. Her conception of herself as a liberated female leads her to say hard things about male arrogance, stupidity, sexual impotence and incompetence, and her own sexual frustrations (which are, of course, to be blamed on men) fill up a good part of one notebook. She is intelligent, honest, burning with conviction, but -- in the manner of the new Women's Liberationists -- she lacks tolerance. The four notebooks merge into the single conception of the "Golden Notebook", and we are told that we have, after all, been reading a novel. We are not altogether convinced. There has been too much diversion of aim, too little digestion of deeply held beliefs into something acceptable as a work of art. The crusader's best medium is the manifesto, which is less concerned with aesthetic balance than with didactic hammering. The Golden Notebook has, with all its faults, significance as the most massive statement made, up to that time, on gucci the position of woman in the modern world. Mrs Lessing, as her other work shows, has spent much energy on other issues -- the relationship of black and white, ruled and ruling, in a British dependency (born gucci outlet in Iran, she was raised in Rhodesia); the panacea of socialism in a tormented world; the question (raised also by the psychiatrist R.D. Laing) of what constitutes sanity. The realistic novel has ceased to satisfy her, and she has found it more comfortable to present her view of the world's misery in the form of a kind of elevated science fiction. The Golden Notebook presents her essence, however, and ought to be taken as a historical document of some importance. This looks like the work of a man who has seen the world and despises it: only the most ingrown scholarship seems to remain. But one must not leave out of account Nabokov's immense humour. Pale Fire is both pedantry and a satire on pedantry. The core of the novel is a 999-line poem by an American author, John Shade -- a sort of Robert Frost -- which consists mainly louis vuitton bags of a rather moving meditation on the tragic end of the poet's daughter. After Shade's death, a foolish scholar named Kinbote -- an exile from the mythical country of Zembla and a visiting professor of Zemblan at Wordsmith College, New Wye, Appalachia -- edits this work, providing a preface and a detailed corpus of notes. But Kinbote has an idée fixe -- the history of his own country -- and he believes that Shade's poem is an allegory of this history, with Kinbote himself -- fantasized into the deposed King Charles Xavier II -- as the hero. The humour -- and Nabokov's humour is subtle as well as occasionally brutal -- lies in the disparity between the simple truth of the poem and the gross self-exalting hallucinations of its editor. The interest of Pale Fire is perhaps mainly formal -- here is a new way of writing a novel, in the form of a text with apparatus criticus -- but one can see how it satisfies a louis vuitton outlet store particular need of Nabokov's. This is the need to collect and exhibit curious fragments of life and nature for their own sake, not as elements in a narrative plot. Lolita almost sinks under a weight of detail; Pale Fire is deliberately detail and little else. In Nabokov's masterly four-volume translation with notes of Pushkin's Eugene Onegin, the scholar can relax in a vast meadow of detail, knowing juicy couture jewelry that the telling of a story has been handed over to someone else: his true joy is the amassing of bits of coloured glass, stry shaped stones, old customs, weird words. Nabokov was a skilled butterfly-collector. Pale Fire is a brilliant confection.Muriel Spark is a Catholic convert and already seems to have joined the Church Triumphant. This means that she can look down on human pain and folly with a kind of divine indifference. There are pain and violence in this brief novel, but perhaps they can be excused because they are related to the public outrage of World War II, which has just finished. The setting is the May of Teck Club, founded for the girls of the title by the late Queen Mary while she was still Princess of Teck. The year is 1945. An unexploded bomb is said to lie buried in the garden, but as this tale is constantly being related by an old spinster with her share of eccentricities, no one takes much notice. Yet the girls themselves are eccentric: Pauline Fox has an imaginary weekly dinner with a famous actor; Jane Wright sends, with no hope of answer, letters to distinguished writers; Selina Redwood carries on a love affair on the next-door roof; Joanna Childe, disappointed in love, recites (with exquisite prada appropriateness, considering the year), Hopkins's poem "The Wreck of the coach outlet Deutschland". Even the men in the girls' lives are haunted, one by fear of wire-tapping, another by his work in progress, The Sabbath Notebooks. And yet we can accept these strange people as making up a world like our own, since the world that has dropped an atom bomb in its own garden cannot really be accounted sane. Eventually the bomb in the hostel grounds goes off, dealing out wholesale death and destroying the club which is a symbol of human society. But the organization of the story is too subtle for simple allegory: we learn not merely of a phase of world history but of the whole human condition. Muriel Spark, safe with her theological certainties, withholds compassion: as Joanna Childe starts to burn to death, the author chooses this moment for a detailed description of the clothes the poor girl is wearing. Brilliant, brittle, the production of a fine brain and a superior craft.





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