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Weekly Round-Up: A Reckless War, A Bloody Legacy, Understanding Islam, In Defence Of Evaluation, Coming Of Age With Flaubert, and Translating Proust

The Oxonian Review presents the Weekly Round-Up, featuring articles the editorial staff have found interesting, illuminating, or otherwise noteworthy.

1. “Edward Said: ‘The Academy of Lagado’“, The London Review of Books: Said’s prescient article, from 2003, is worth revisiting in the light of recent events. “This is the most reckless war in modern times. It is all about imperial arrogance unschooled in worldliness, unfettered either by competence or experience, undeterred by history or human complexity, unrepentant in its violence and the cruelty of its technology. What winning, or for that matter losing, such a war will ultimately entail is unthinkable. But pity the Iraqi civilians who must still suffer a great deal more before they are finally ‘liberated’.”

2. “Dexter Filkins: ‘Wider War’“, The New Yorker: Filkins considers the West’s increasingly bloody legacy in Iraq. “The “divine conquest” of Mosul by a group of Islamic extremists is a bitter consequence of the American invasion. For now, there seems to be very little we can do about it.”

3. “Suleiman Mourad: ‘Riddles of the Book’“, New Left Review: “What explains the virulent recrudescence of antagonisms between Sunnis and Shi‘is in the Middle East today?” A fascinating interview with a leading scholar of Islamic history.

4. “Arthur Krystal: ‘What is literature?’“, Harper’s Magazine: Twenty years after Harold Bloom’s controversial The Western Canon, Krystal restates the case for evaluation in criticism. “Writers may not be able to “escape from contingency,” as the new historicists used to say, but those sensitive to their prisons can transform the walls that confine them—a transformation that requires an awareness of the great poets and novelists who preceded them.”

5. “Michael Wood: ‘The Long Goodbye’“, Lapham’s Quarterly: Michael Wood reflects on Flaubert’s Sentimental Education. “We are invited to explore the realm of what Balzac calls illusions and Flaubert calls sentiments, where ambition and fantasy are rampant and sometimes fulfilled, where cynical advice passes as sagacity. It is the realm of what we think we know—what some of us are sure we know—but where none of us is always right.”

6. “Leland de la Durantaye: ‘Style Over Substance’“, The Boston Review: The perils of translating Proust. “‘Beautiful books are always written in a sort of foreign language,’ Proust said.”

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