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Literary Essays [Kindle Edition]

Sean Gabb
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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  • Length: 184 pages
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Book Description

Extract: “The answer, I think, to Carol Ann Duffy’s popularity and official endorsement is the democratisation of the arts. The modern movement was motivated in part by a snobbish elite that wanted things to praise that ordinary people could not appreciate. Since then, however, the idea has taken hold that anything that everyone cannot do should be shunned…. The full horror is in poetry. Here we find the verbal equivalents of Tracey Emin and a universal insistence that what they write is poetry. What makes Carol Ann Duffy so popular is the knowledge that anyone else might have written her works. Writing in her style needs nothing more than a word processor with the spelling checker turned on. Her nationality, sex and possible sexuality aside, she is the ideal poet for an age that calls itself democratic—and, in a debased sense, probably is."

Why bother learning Latin? How did the Romans pronounce Greek? Should the Elgin Marbles be handed over to the Modern Greeks? Did the ancients have market economies? Should Epicurus be venerated above Plato and Aristotle? Why is Carol Ann Duffy not even a bad poet? What makes Macaulay a great historian and L. Neil Smith a great science fiction novelist? Why is The Daily Mail—easily the best newspaper in England—not fit for wrapping fish and chips?

Sean Gabb deals with these and other issues in this collection of essays. Lively and provocative, they are written for every lover of ancient or modern literature.

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Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 593 KB
  • Print Length: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Hampden Press; 1st edition (11 Aug. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005H2SP6M
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
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  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #585,137 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Sean Gabb is the author of 20 books and about 300 essays. Under the name Richard Blake, he has written six historical novels for Hodder & Stoughton. These have been translated into Spanish, Italian, Greek, Slovak, Hungarian, Chinese and Indonesian. Under his own name, he has written four novels. His other books are mainly about politics and culture. He broadcasts regularly in the British media. He lives in Kent with his wife and daughter.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
From my back-cover blurb:

"Libertarians have sound ideas but are not always great writers, and are not usually authorities on literature and literary matters. Rarer still is the literary essayist who is not confused or ignorant about politics and economics. It is thus refreshing to encounter Sean Gabb's literary writing. A long-time libertarian activist and writer who is also a superb novelist and literary essayist, an honest and clear writer, he is our modern libertarian man of letters. This splendid and sparkling collection of essays provides fascinating insights into literature and other literary topics, without the typical leftist baggage and economic illiteracy."

Stephan Kinsella, Editor, Libertarian Papers; Senior Fellow, Ludwig von Mises Institute
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eminently readable 28 Dec. 2011
Format:Paperback
This book is well worth buying for its sustained, remorselessly constructed demolition of the poetry of Carol Ann Duffy alone. Indeed, this is an essay that should be required reading wherever English literature is taught.

It is obvious from the first page that Gabb is an analytical thinker, and indeed his approach puts one at times in mind of the late J. Enoch Powell's sublimely logical exegeses. Words are weighed carefully and care is taken to avoid their waste or ambiguous usage; as Gabb states in his Introduction and expands at length, "Everything must be subordinate to clarity." Such an achievement is the more remarkable given that Gabb writes rapidly and prolifically.

I wonder whether the purpose of such a volume, aside from the worthwhile subjects it addresses in the author's expectedly trenchant style, is not to pass oblique and disparaging comment upon the current aesthetic both in literature and in its criticism. Not a word of this book acknowledges the postmodern ethic that has come to dominate university literature departments other than to dismiss it en passant. The tone of the writing is something almost lost from contemporary discourse; a persuasive voice based upon a certainty both of objective values within literature and of the relationship of those values to the author's subjective opinions, the latter being the more trenchant because it is clear that they are departures from fixed points rather than the mere petulance of fashionable discourse.

As such, this is a valuable work in reminding us that English conservative commentary continues to be a living tradition, and a worthwhile contribution to the tradition upheld by such figures as Roger Scruton.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A pleasurable read 22 Nov. 2011
Format:Paperback
Those of a libertarian inclination may gravitate easily to Sean Gabb's Literary Essays but this volume should hold broad appeal. As the author explains in his introduction the content gathered here is modest in size next to that of his political output. But in tackling topics ranging from the poetry of Carol Ann Duffy to Epicurean influence on the Enlightenment he is always informative and often provocative. Throughout he is admirably unambiguous in the expression of his opinions.

Where the subject matter is not immediately inviting this last point is important. I was not previously aware of Karl Polanyi and Moses Finley and had I accidentally stumbled upon their Wikipedia pages they would not have made me want to remedy matters. But it is to Mr Gabb's credit that he manages to explain their economic theories in such a way as to appeal to the non-academic reader. Furthermore he does so as part of a robust defence of the idea of market activity as natural human behaviour.

Readers of this book will also be introduced to sci-fi author L Neil Smith and have cause to ponder on the original spirit of the Olympic Games. Perhaps too they will think anew about language and how best it is deployed. As evinced by his opening chapter on the Oxford Latin Course, the author is a philologist at heart. Accordingly, whatever he chooses to write about he does so with finesse.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful essays from our modern libertarian man of letters 15 Aug. 2011
By N. Stephan Kinsella - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
From my back-cover blurb:

"Libertarians have sound ideas but are not always great writers, and are not usually authorities on literature and literary matters. Rarer still is the literary essayist who is not confused or ignorant about politics and economics. It is thus refreshing to encounter Sean Gabb's literary writing. A long-time libertarian activist and writer who is also a superb novelist and literary essayist, an honest and clear writer, he is our modern libertarian man of letters. This splendid and sparkling collection of essays provides fascinating insights into literature and other literary topics, without the typical leftist baggage and economic illiteracy."

Stephan Kinsella, Editor, Libertarian Papers; Senior Fellow, Ludwig von Mises Institute
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