Editorial Retractions; In Re: Foote


Editorial Retractions; In Re: Foote Below

T. S. O'Rama informs me:

I do agree that Foote is not the arbiter of what makes for good literature, but in fairness he is extremely well-read. On Brian Lamb's show he said he's read Proust's "Remembrance of Things Past" nine times, which, given its length, is surreal. He's read basically everything (unlike Walker Percy, who had to be nagged constantly to read Dante past "Inferno" or any of Proust). He's also sits on the Modern Library board, which is a pretty elite group. That having been said, you are right, it's mere conjecture on his part since it is certainly subjective.

And so I must say that certainly his opinion does deserve the careful consideration given a thoughtful and well-read person. But certainly not the weight given a scholar who has studied the literature for his entire lifetime. Just as my opinion should not hold the same weight as a scholar dedicated to the study and explication of a body of work.

On the difficult question of Shakespeare's doubt (later in the same post)--I must respectfully but firmly disagree with the contention as set forth. Shakespeare may have wondered why God's justice is so delayed (as did the psalmist, I would add).

"Measure for Measure" (his darkest play, perhaps) was written toward the end of his life, but then so were "Othello," "Kind Lear," and "Macbeth" which, while tragedies, are hardly "pessimistic." And the final plays (except for Henry VIII, which I haven't read) "A Winter's Tale," "Cymbeline," and "The Tempest" all seem, in one way or another, to treat of the theme of the banking of life's fires--a realization that no one is immortal. There is a gentle sadness that hangs about some of these, just as there is a profound romantic element. But I wouldn't call them pessimistic, simply much more obviously aware of the fragility of life. I hardly think these works constitute evidence of doubt.

Overall, I think we are trained to see any demurral any expression whatsoever of wonderment of puzzlement as "doubt." But I ask you, did Job ever doubt? One might consider him fairly pessimistic "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the Lord," is probably the motto of many a fatalist. (Although I would not argue fatalism for Job).

I would need to examine the plays much more carefully for evidences of the doubt of God's existence (the doubt to which Foote ultimately refers). I simply don't think that the people or the times supported such a viewpoint.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on August 15, 2002 5:52 PM.

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