Isn’t this thing with Dale Peck just a bit silly? I mean, come on, guy — you’re supposed to judge a contest, so judge it! He says, “The truth is, contemporary fiction’s nothing more than an enabler of certain bourgeois illusions.” Yeah, SOME contemporary fiction, maybe, is doing whatever you’re saying it’s doing, but to make a sweeping generalization about all contemporary fiction is beyond meaningless. And certainly no reason to refuse to do what you agreed to do, which is to judge which is better, Ian McEwan’s Saturday or Ali Smith’s The Accidental. So don’t just toss a coin to make the decision, use your brains!
Okay, enough of that.
Here’s a bit from Howards End I liked:
“I’ve often thought about it, Helen. It’s one of the most interesting things in the world. The truth is that there is a great outer life that you and I have never touched — a life in which telegrams and anger count. Personal relations, that we think supreme, are not supreme there. There love means marriage settlements; death, death duties. So far I’m clear. But here’s my difficulty. This outer life, though obviously horrid, often seems the real one — there’s grit in it. It does breed character. Do personal relations lead to sloppiness in the end?”
“Oh, Meg, that’s what I felt, only not so clearly, when the Wilcoxes were so competent, and seemed to have their hands on all the ropes.”
“Don’t you feel it now?”
“I remember Paul at breakfast,” said Helen quietly. “I shall never forget him. He had nothing to fall back upon. I know that personal relations are the real life, for ever and ever.”
Hmmm. Now that I think about it, this sounds a bit like an enabler of certain bourgeois illusions, like the illusion of a stable, coherent interior identity and self.
Still, I stand by my point about sweeping generalizations.