Friday, August 12, 2005

This week's on-line reading

I'm eager to read Karen Armstrong's A Short History of Myths, due out in November, so I was happy to see her Guardian piece on the historically-recent trend of people reading religious texts literally instead of allegorically:

Human beings, in nearly all cultures, have long engaged in a rather strange activity. They have taken a literary text, given it special status and attempted to live according to its precepts. These texts are usually of considerable antiquity yet they are expected to throw light on situations that their authors could not have imagined. In times of crisis, people turn to their scriptures with renewed zest and, with much creative ingenuity, compel them to speak to their current predicament. We are seeing a great deal of scriptural activity at the moment.

Has anyone read Susann Cokal's Breath and Bones? A guest reviewer at the Mumpsimus, Catherynne M. Valente, trashed the book last month. Dan Green had an entirely different perspective on the novel this week and takes Valente to task for appearing to be one of those readers who look for a character to identify with. I'll admit to being one who's often befuddled by those who look first and foremost for a character just like themselves in fiction. The library is processing Cokal's novel, so it will be interesting to see what side of the divide I fall on with this one.

Of course everyone has read about the Booker Long List by now. The Guardian provides a brief summary of each novel at the end of its article.

Carl Zimmer adapts the last chapter of Evolution: the Triump of an Idea for a post on Charles Darwin's religious faith, in response to an essay in Slate.

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