Literature can be used to disseminate ideas with devastating real-life consequences. In How Bad Writing Destroyed the World , Adam Weiner spans decades and continents to reveal the surprising connections between the 2008-2009 financial crisis and a relatively unknown nineteenth-century Russian author.Read more...
Literature can be used to disseminate ideas with devastating real-life consequences. In How Bad Writing Destroyed the World, Adam Weiner spans decades and continents to reveal the surprising connections between the 2008-2009 financial crisis and a relatively unknown nineteenth-century Russian author.
A congressional investigation placed the blame for the financial crisis on Alan Greenspan and his deregulatory policies-his attempts, in essence, to put Ayn Rand's Objectivism into practice. Though developed most famously in Rand's Atlas Shrugged, Objectivism sprouted from the Rational Egoism of Nikolai Chernyshevsky's What Is to be Done? (1863), an enormously influential Russian novel decried by the likes of Fyodor Dostoevsky and Vladimir Nabokov for its destructive radical ethics. In tracing the origins of Greenspan's ruinous ideology, How Bad Writing Destroyed the World combines literary and intellectual history to uncover the danger of hawking the virtues of selfishness, even in fiction."
- ISBN-13: 9781501313110
- ISBN-10: 1501313118
- Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
- Publish Date: October 2016
- Page Count: 264
- Dimensions: 7.7 x 5 x 1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.65 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-08-08
- Reviewer: Staff
Weiner (By Authors Possessed: The Demonic Novel in Russia) promises a book about Russian writers, Ayn Rand, and the U.S. financial crisis. His delivery is impressive on the first, more than acceptable on the second, and lacking on the third. The Russians include Nikolay Chernyshevsky, author of the largely forgotten 1863 novel What Is to Be Done, which Weiner describes as a “jarring cacophony of disparate elements” and a “great source of inspiration for the Russian revolutionary movement”; Fyodor Dostoyevsky, who, Weiner says, thought Chernyshevsky was “at the center of a secret terrorist organization”; and Sergey Nechayev, a murderous revolutionary who refashioned himself after Chernyshevsky’s antihero, Rakhmetov. Weiner’s literary criticism, focusing on political and philosophical themes, is solid up to and including his explication of Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, written by a woman who, Weiner reminds us, grew up in St. Petersburg at a time when Chernyshevsky’s influence there was “ubiquitous and unassailable.” Weiner’s conclusion that “unfettered capitalism is no more a utopia than the chained collective” effectively damns both Chernyshevsky and Rand in one sentence. Readers who expected more about the U.S. financial crisis than a few brief mentions of Alan Greenspan, who called Rand’s deeply flawed novel “a magnificent masterpiece,” won’t find that in this otherwise fine book. (Oct.)