Monday, May 15, 2006
A Derbyshire-Chesterton Coincidence
Today's NRO had an article by John Derbyshire on Lolita, which hardened my years-long intention to read that book into a--well, into a firmer intention. I then, while searching for something entirely unrelated by Chesterton, happened across this essay in Chesterton's All Things Considered. Both Derbyshire and Chesterton were writing near a literary anniversary (the 50-year anniversary of Lolita, the 200th birthday of Fielding) , both talk about a book called immoral by many of its readers and non- or partial readers, and both talk about the increasing tendency of wimpy moderns not to want to confront the truth of human nature. In the Lolita essay, this mostly comes down to the politically incorrect fact that men continue find young, pubescent or post-pubescent women attractive. In the Fielding essay, it's the inconvenient fact of the complete human--that is, the way a man (or woman) may be a bewildering mess of virtues and vices and may commit quite a lot of sins and stupid mistakes along with some good while aspiring to do much better. Both essays are worth the few minutes it takes to read them, even if, like me, you only know Lolita through the movie and Tom Jones through a radio dramatization.