February 6th, 2011

Against Sebastian Faulks

Sebastian Faulks's theory that it took two world wars to convince novelists that human nature is intrinsically unheroic is a slur on the profession. Novelists- from Cervantes on down- have always been concerned with deconstructing heroism. The big problem for the English novel in its 19th century golden age was the taboo on writing frankly about the power and uses of sex. Continental authors suffered no such inhibition - and Balzac's Lucien de Rubempre conceeds nothing in essential shittiness to any post-war British anti-hero.