I would be the voice of my generation if only I had anything at all to say to them

There’s a lot to like about David Rieff’s critique of techno-utopianism in this month issue of Foreign Policy.  It addresses a number of the same topics I’ve been covering here on this blog, and is well worth a look.

All that said, the thing that really sticks with me is his opening riff:

“Good books transcend their times;  bad books reflect them.  One reads Madame Bovary for its sublime writing and exploration of the human condition in all its tortuous complexity.  But if you really want to understand 19th-century bourgeois France, you would be far better served by plowing through the literaly mediocre but historically informative novels of Gustave Flaubert’s journeyman contemporary, Eugene Sue.”

I can’t pretend to have heard of Eugene Sue, but as a principle that sounds right.