marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

Our Culture, What's Left of It: The Mandarins and the Masses

Our Culture, What's Left of It: The Mandarins and the Masses by Theodore Dalrymple

A collection of essays in two sections.   It opens with one about how he has come to retirement age and will be leaving his work in the British slums.

The first is about literary stuff and other arts.  Like photography -- one essay is about an exhibit of photography taken in Vietnam by photographers who were killed there.  William Shakespeare appears in two essays, one on the relationship between totalitarian states and Macbeth, and another about Measure For Measure and the relationship between sexual issues and society.  Dystopias, such as Brave New World and 1984, in another.  The paintings of Mary Cassatt.

And then there's second section, on life in the underclass that he knows so much about.  The appalling malnutrition among the underclass -- white and immigrant -- though not among the poor Indians, who, being as poor, nevertheless take the care to cook from scratch and sit down to meals and so often rise from the poverty.  The willful destruction of Havana through allowing endless decay.  The cloying sentiment about Princess Diana's death.  The horrors of many an English childhood nowadays.  true crime.  (I must warn that the essay "Horror Story" is not understating itself, what with the depravity of the criminals involved.)

Not light reading.  But worth it.

Tags: lit crit, non-fiction: essays, primary source review

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