Link: normblog: Writer’s choice 94: Frank Wilson.
A wonderful piece by Frank Wilson on Priestley’s "Literature and Western Man" at the normblog (link above), Norman Geras’s weblog. I’ve read several of Priestley’s novels and seen most of his plays (and read them all), but have to admit to not having read this particular work, by all accounts his masterpiece. Frank writes:
"Literature and Western Man had a profound and lasting effect on me. It demonstrated to me the degree to which literature enables us to discern who we really are and what is really going on in the world. There is more political science in Richard II than there is in any dreary white paper some think tank is currently churning out. As Priestley says of Montaigne: ‘there is something that can be known… something much closer and more comprehensible than the doctrine of the Trinity or the world plan of the Absolute, and that is – the mind, the inner world, that shapes and colours both character and action. No wonder Montaigne was free from the raging and murderous fanaticism of his time. He had taken a peep into the kitchen where that hell-broth was brewing.’
The mystery of which we have the most direct experience is the self. Great literature enables us to find our way around this ever-uncharted wilderness, where angels may be found to dwell, but where also, for sure, there be dragons."
Please do read Frank’s entire essay, at the link above.
Thanks to Debra Hamel of the deblog and Dave Lull for letting me know about this essay.