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Culture & Religion

Freedom: Franzen’s Juvenile Prose

“Jonathan Franzen’s juvenile prose creates a world in which nothing important can happen.” The Atlantic’s B.R. Myers says contemporary language robs language of its import.

“The language a writer uses to create a world is that world, and Franzen’s strenuously contemporary and therefore juvenile language is a world in which nothing important can happen. Madame Bovary’s marriage sucked, Heathcliff was into Catherine: these words fail the context not just because they are of our own time. There is no import in things that ‘suck,’ no drama in someone’s being ‘into’ someone else. As for the F word, Anthony Burgess once criticized the notion that to use it in matter-of-fact prose is to hark back to ‘a golden age of Anglo-Saxon candour’; the word was taboo from the start, because it stands for brutal or at best impersonal sex.”


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