Sunday, 23 October 2011


Splendid bit of massy generalisation from Fredric Jameson (in ‘Cosmic Neutrality’, his LRB review of Henrik Pontoppidan’s Lucky Per): ‘in the Northern or Protestant countries, cultural dissatisfaction is indistinguishable from religious misery.’ Golly. Really? The elision of terms is striking—not that religion is so central to life that it swallows culture, but that it is only another function or manifestation of culture; not that ‘dissatisfaction’ is necessarily misery (because, of course, it need not be: it can equally be the pleasant spur, the stimulating fizz of life), but that it is taken to be so by nations in which religion and culture blur together.

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