Leading Article: A Pessimistic View of Literature and Politics

The Independent (London, England), December 2, 2003 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Leading Article: A Pessimistic View of Literature and Politics


THE TITLE of John le Carre's new novel, Absolute Friends, may suggest a zany TV sitcom conflating the worlds of Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Aniston, but is, the author assures us, "a piece of political science fiction" about a neo-conservative junta taking control of US politics. Asked on the Today programme if one can still write "optimistic fiction" in the current political climate, Le Carre said no - he was inspired by "anger and a growing despair about the way things were unfolding".

Who, though, wants optimism from Mr Le Carre? Monochrome gloom, petrified idealism and the rooting out of treachery - these are the reliably pessimistic qualities we seek in his work. An optimistic Le Carre novel would be as disappointing as a sexually fulfilled Anita Brookner.

So is there any place for optimism in the literature? Tales of personal triumph over social hardship belong to the likes of Catherine Cookson and Barbara Taylor Bradford. Inspirational tales of destiny and the benign cosmos ooze from the pen of the Brazilian visionary Paolo Coelho. The thriller, the murder mystery and the Tolkienish fantasy sequence are optimistic genres, in their devotion to the status quo.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Leading Article: A Pessimistic View of Literature and Politics
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?