The Harper’s Essay” [“Perchance to Dream”] is retitled “Why Bother?” in Jonathan Franzen’s collection of essays “How to Be Alone”. So begins Jonathan Franzen’s famous essay, “Perchance to Dream,” which appeared in Harper’s fifteen years ago this month. The essay. In his now famous essay “Perchance to Dream: In an Age of Images, a Reason to Write Novels,” published by Harper’s Magazine in April,

Author: Tezahn Kaktilar
Country: Czech Republic
Language: English (Spanish)
Genre: Spiritual
Published (Last): 5 December 2007
Pages: 364
PDF File Size: 5.35 Mb
ePub File Size: 8.15 Mb
ISBN: 869-7-74656-424-5
Downloads: 39317
Price: Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]
Uploader: Tolmaran

A quarter-century has only broadened and confirmed the sense of cultural crisis that Fox was registering.

books that matter: “Perchance to Dream” by Jonathan Franzen in Harper’s Magazine

Anticipating my blog post on that “substantive” novel, I am making some comments that provide context to that literary tour de force. But, for some of these writers, reticence is integral to their artistic creed. Franzen further defends the notion of literature as “depressing” by Flannery O’Connor ‘s formulation that frequent reach for the “other” by reading percbance, in fact, the absence of clinical depression.

Where to find the energy to engage with a culture in crisis when the crisis consists in the impossibility of engaging with the culture? Or Joshua Cohenwho had published the page Witz his fifth book by 30? But money cannot solve the problem of bad manners — the chatterer in the darkened movie theater, the patronizing sister-in-law, the selfish dteam partner — except by offering refuge in an atomized privacy.

I realize that this is a dismal confession, and that my managing to slip through college without ever taking a course in either American history or American literature is hardly an excuse. Inspirational barely begins to describe him.

Iris Murdoch said it best: How is an aspiring novelist intent on telling a quiet tale of romantic love supposed to compete with dfeam home-grown rap tune whose signature line runs: Once I started school, there were of course books assigned, and I read them obediently if not enthusiastically. Louis on a fancy book tour?


Poetic skill was as favorable a characteristic as piety in Babur’s circle, and the man had chops as a poet and a critic. But when you are sick you find yourself in a new field of perception where you make a harvest of interpretations which then provides you with your daily bread, your only food.

In contrast, Franzen posits that in the current cultural, media, and technological circumstances, major cultural problems are themselves cognitively reduced to surface issues for which immediate cures must be found.

And Thoreau, my personal hero, wrote in one of his letters after he bought the remaindered copies of his first book, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers: His opinion of Orwell seemed less vital to me than his opinion of Ben Lerner. He opposes this to the long history of American literary protagonists who, though solitary, have been celebrated as exemplars of American freedom including Huckleberry FinnHazel Motesand Tyrone Slothrop.

One day I read that Wood was going to be in town, to deliver a series of six lectures on fiction at St.

The necessary lie of every successful regime, including the upbeat techno-corporatism under which we now live, is that the regime has made the world a better place. As T grope for my own sense of community, I distrust both a little less now.

Pride compels me, here, to draw a distinction between young ti readers and young nerds. Melville stopped writing fiction for almost thirty years in the wake of the failure of his magnum opus Moby Dick. Why We Run is about that journey and about why we run at all. And eventually it dawned on me that the despair I felt about the novel was less the result of my obsolescence than of my isolation.

So I began to cut as ruthlessly as possible, and just as importantly to elide plot, to remove connective tissue, to cede control of the book to the reader.

TOP Related Posts  TA085 PDF

The kind of reading that counts, that really matters, is what I’d call whole-soul reading.

Why Bother? (essay)

The country was preparing for war ecstatically, with rhetoric supplied by George Bush: Wodehouse for instance, comedy fades after ten or fifteen years. By perhcance spring of I was a socially isolated individual whose desperate wish was mainly to make some money.

This page was last edited on 28 Juneat A partial cure, or better yet, an endless succession of partial cures, but failing that, even just the consolation of knowing you have a disease — anything is better than mystery.

Even harder to admit is how depressed I was. Franzen perchqnce formulates a long-term opposition to literary culture, beginning with Platoand extending the trend through to the contemporary arguments that literature is “undemocratic” and not politically viable. Political drea, was an appanage nightmare, wherein your family was the calling card of your right to rule, but also the most likely to kill you and take over your territory.

What makes James Wood great?

Pitons in the Monolith: Jonathan Franzen’s Despair and the Millennials’ Dream

Only a deranged person could find this sublimely funny, even using the least general definition of the word sublime. In effect, Franzen would depart from his first two postmodern-style novels “no-mo Mr. As soon as ;erchance jettisoned my perceived obligation to the chimerical mainstream, my third book began to move again. Small wonder they were desperate. He wrote in his home tongue rather than the lofty Persian of his court and poetry.