Weekly Round-upEmail This Article Print This Article

Weekly Round-Up: Fiction And The Reading Public, The New Iconoclasm, The Graduate Glut, A Cruddy Game, Fifty Years Of Books, and Classical Humour

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

1. “Tim Parks: ‘Reading: The Struggle’“, The New York Review of Books: How is the increasingly distracting world we live in changing how we read and write? Parks predicts that “the novel of elegant, highly distinct prose, of conceptual delicacy and syntactical complexity, will tend to divide itself up into shorter and shorter sections” while “the larger popular novel… will be ever more laden with repetitive formulas, and coercive, declamatory rhetoric to make it easier and easier, after breaks, to pick up, not a thread, but a sturdy cable.” Look out for the “precious exceptions”.

2. “Alan Bennett: ‘Fair Play: A Sermon’“, The London Review of Books: Alan Bennett compares the dismantling of the post-war settlement to the dissolution of the monasteries. “In pursuit of profit, the state and all that goes with it is sold from under us who are its rightful owners and with a frenzy and dedication that call up memories of an earlier iconoclasm.”

3. “Joshua Rothman: ‘Fixing the PhD’“, The New Yorker: Are the humanities a victim of their own success? Rothman argues the “over-production” of PhDs is at the root of the sense of crisis. “It creates an ever-growing pool of cheap labor, which administrators are only too happy to employ in place of tenure-track faculty.”

4. “Rhonda Lieberman: ‘Hoard d’Oeuvres’“, The Baffler: “A cruddy game for the self-aggrandizement of the rich and ignorant” was the late Robert Hughes’s memorable indictment of the contemporary art market. As Lieberman reveals, things have only got worse. “As the art world adapts to the neo-Gilded Age by recasting itself as luxury retail, the power of the purse has effectively vanquished the last vestiges of the old art world: criticism, and the aesthetic judgment that informs it.”

5. “Rachael Cooke: ‘An interview with Robert Silvers’“, The Observer: At 84, the unflagging editor of the New York Review of Books is as industrious as ever. The magazine is the subject of a new Martin Scorsese documentary, “A 50 Year Argument”.

6. “Mary Beard: ‘Humour in ancient Rome was a matter of life and death’“, New Statesman: “Roman histories and biographies are full of cautionary tales about laughter, used and misused.”

If you would like to suggest a link, please email fergus.mcghee[at]hmc.ox.ac.uk