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Jonathan Franzen Backlash Thread

Discussion in 'Entertainment, Culture, and Sports' started by Don Carlos, Sep 1, 2010.

  1. Don Carlos

    Don Carlos Well-Known Member

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    I don't see any substance in this critique beyond the vagaries of "he's overhyped" and "boo Oprah book club." I would be surprised if you've read Freedom, because if so I might be learning what it is you didn't like about the novel instead of reading generalizations that can be applied to anybody.

    They apply to quite a few people, which is the crux of my critique of Franzen. Nothing unique or special, whether in substance or style. Furthermore, you'll notice that this is a "backlash" thread, implying that my beef with Franzen is not that he's a bad writer, per se (he certainly isn't), but that he is overrated.

    I get nothing new from Franzen.
     
  2. holymadness

    holymadness Well-Known Member

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    They apply to quite a few people, which is the crux of my critique of Franzen. Nothing unique or special, whether in substance or style. Furthermore, you'll notice that this is a "backlash" thread, implying that my beef with Franzen is not that he's a bad writer, per se (he certainly isn't), but that he is overrated.

    I get nothing new from Franzen.

    Yes, they apply to Tolstoy and to Eliot and to Balzac as well. In fact, since Hemingway pioneered the so-called 'journalistic' approach to realism, they apply to him even more than to the rest and yet you laud him so I really don't see where you're coming from.

    What I do see in this thread is middlebrow rejection of the mainstream in order to feel above it, though the "it" in question seems to be barely understood. If the goal of the thread is really to object to Freedom's critical reception, maybe you should acquaint yourself with it a bit better first.
     
  3. tagutcow

    tagutcow Well-Known Member

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    If the goal of the thread is really to object to Freedom's critical reception, maybe you should acquaint yourself with it a bit better first.

    Wow. After reading those reviews, I lost whatever desire I might have had to read Freedom. That is some seriously limp prose.
     
  4. Don Carlos

    Don Carlos Well-Known Member

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    Yes, they apply to Tolstoy and to Eliot and to Balzac as well. In fact, since Hemingway pioneered the so-called 'journalistic' approach to realism, they apply to him even more than to the rest and yet you laud him so I really don't see where you're coming from. What I do see in this thread is middlebrow rejection of the mainstream in order to feel above it, though the "it" in question seems to be barely understood. If the goal of the thread is really to object to Freedom's critical reception, maybe you should acquaint yourself with it a bit better first.
    LOL at picking two contrarian reviews -- one of which even acknowledges the world's throbbing hardon for Franzen -- in an attempt to suggest that general lit-crit reception of Franzen has been anything other than delivered on bended knee, with mouths gaping and hands fumbling at the belt buckle. Second, you continue to miss or ignore my point that Franzen adds nothing new to American literature. Groan at Hemingway all you want; his contribution (admittedly more to style than to subject matter) to American prose was nothing short of revolutionary. I struggle to name a post-Hemingway novelist who was not influenced by Hemingway's style. Even the New Prolixity, as practiced by Wallace, Delillo, et al., was in some ways a conscious reaction to Hemingway's influence. Franzen, on the other hand, hasn't changed anything about the way novels are written. Nor has he added anything profound to the cultural analysis of, or by, or within American letters.
     
  5. Wackadoodle

    Wackadoodle Well-Known Member

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    Honestly, I would prefer Jonathan Franzen getting press and appearing on talk shows to talk about his new novel than any of the Housewives from the TLC series pimping their new "skinny bitch" cocktail-diet or something. Seriously, get over yourselves!
     
  6. holymadness

    holymadness Well-Known Member

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    LOL at picking two contrarian reviews -- one of which even acknowledges the world's throbbing hardon for Franzen -- in an attempt to suggest that general lit-crit reception of Franzen has been anything other than delivered on bended knee, with mouths gaping and hands fumbling at the belt buckle.
    What an awkward way to say "positive." This is something a jilted lover with a MFA and a blog would write. I picked two contrarian reviews to illustrate that Freedom's critical reception wasn't universally favorable. I think if you look at all the reviews put together, you'll note that while the novel was liked on the whole, its praise was hardly unqualified. In your head you are confusing mediatization, publicity, commercial success, and critical acclaim. But the weirdest thing is that you are railing against the reception of something you haven't even read (I am assuming, since you didn't bother to correct my last post), so I have no idea how you've come to the conclusion that it's overrated.
    If I have missed or ignored your points it's because they are so small. In general, works of art should be judged according to what they try to accomplish. If you judge every novel according to its relationship to Hemingway, then you are bound to reach some very absurd conclusions about their intrinsic merits. So when Franzen purposely ignores all of 20th century literary modernism and post-modernism and instead models his work on 19th century English and Russian realism, the correct answer is not, "Franzen didn't follow the strictly linear path of literary evolution from A-Z, therefore his work is irrelevant to the teleological progression of the genre." The question is, rather, why does Franzen write like that, is it effective for his purpose, and what does he manage to convey? These are questions you cannot begin to discuss without actually having read the work in question, rendering any 'point' moot.
     

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