Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The History Man

I'm a bit of a sucker for campus noevls, even though I don't really believe that "campus novel" is a meaningful literary genre. I belated finished reading The History Man yesterday, after having previously read this review in the guardian.

The book's wikipedia entry attests to its significance, although it's not a very good overview; David Lodge's view is more to the point. I guess one way to interpret the book, probably not the right way, is as a lesson in why, over the past 30 years, universities have had to comply with externally-set standards, why teaching quality has been put on a more and more formal basis, and why we all started to frown on sexual harrassment. (Of course, it's nearly always a mistake to write a novel with the objective of teaching the reader a lesson, which is why I say this is the wrong way to interpret the book. But it may help some readers come to terms with the way it deals with a thoroughly unpleasant man, who fails to get his come-uppance.)

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