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December 20, 2017


Luis Enrique

it's not what you have to read studying Eng Lit that's the problem, it's the sort of stuff they want you to write after reading it.

this may strike some as unlikely, but I got poor marks in Eng Lit when I poured myself into it, then got firsts in the third year when I started turning in what I thought were pastiches of an eng lit essay.

Jim M.

Hi Chris,

A brief word from a long-time lurker here ...

Unlike your good self I chose to study English at Uni and ignored both Politics and Economics until much later in life, and when I did turn my attention to Economics I was deeply troubled by what I found.

I am inclined to agree with Keynes' well-known position:

"The master-economist must possess a rare combination of gifts .... He must be mathematician, historian, statesman, philosopher—in some degree. He must understand symbols and speak in words. He must contemplate the particular, in terms of the general, and touch abstract and concrete in the same flight of thought. He must study the present in the light of the past for the purposes of the future. No part of man's nature or his institutions must be entirely outside his regard. He must be purposeful and disinterested in a simultaneous mood, as aloof and incorruptible as an artist, yet sometimes as near to earth as a politician."

I'm also inclined to agree with your good self about Eliot, and also about the value of a little well-placed dilletantism. :)

A very Merry Xmas to yourself and to all who pop in here, and thanks for furthering my interest in the Economic Dark Arts.

B.L. Zebub

Merry Xmas, Chris.

Tony M

I avoided Middlemarch in school, but recently read it more than 20 years after. I loved it. It's well observed, intelligent, generous and shows deep understanding of people. You might try it again.

Whether you do or not, however, saying that you read Daniel Deronda and therefore have no need to read Middlemarch is like saying you have no need to read Capital to understand Marx because you read Theses On Feuerbach.

J. R. Atkins

I was anticipating retirement for the same reasons you are. And, rather surprisingly, it has turned out to be far more of an adventure in "reading and learning" than I had dared imagine. Finally freed from one of capitalism's bullshit jobs and a hair-raising commute, I have had space and time to discover (and rediscover) writers like you, David Harvey, Polyani, Tony Atkinson, Arrighi, Dickens, Mann, Marx, Hobsbawm, Anthony Powell, and so on. The guilty pleasures of age...

I am afraid Tony M. is right. Every time I reread Middlemarch it makes me wish I had studied more English literature and less history at university. I have never listened to those who try to put me off Dickens by decrying his sentimentality; Dorothea Brooke remains one of literature's great souls and I hope you will give Eliot another go.

jan b

Nothing to do with books, but just to say thanks for your thoughts and best hopes for some good change in the coming year.

Paul W

After reading Middlemarch I decided I would never again read a novel simply because it was a novel I should read. When Virginia Woolf called it the one of the first English books for grown-up people, she thought that was a good thing.

Three books that made me (okay, one essay and two/three books): Politics of the English Language; Genealogy of Morals; Blue and Brown Books.

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