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INTELLECTUALS AND POWER, OR, WHAT'S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?

  • MARTIN JAY (a1)
Abstract

Mark Lilla, The Reckless Mind: Intellectuals in Politics (New York: New York Review of Books, 2001)

Eric Hobsbawm, Interesting Times: A Twentieth-Century Life (New York: Pantheon, 2002)

“Great writers are either husbands or lovers,” Susan Sontag explained in a 1963 essay on Camus. “Some writers supply the solid virtues of a husband: reliability, intelligibility, generosity, decency. There are other writers in whom one prizes the gifts of a lover, gifts of temperament rather than of moral goodness. Notoriously, women tolerate qualities in a lover—moodiness, selfishness, unreliability, brutality—that they never countenance in a husband, in return for excitement, an infusion of intense feeling. In the same way, readers put up with unintelligibility, obsessiveness, painful truths, lies, bad grammar—if, in compensation, the writer allows them to savor rare emotions, and dangerous sensations.” Camus was “the ideal husband of contemporary letters,” she opined, but “as in life, so in art both are necessary, husband and lovers. It's a great pity when one is forced to choose between them.”

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Modern Intellectual History
  • ISSN: 1479-2443
  • EISSN: 1479-2451
  • URL: /core/journals/modern-intellectual-history
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