Note on Zola

Rufus F.

Rufus is an American curmudgeon in Canada. He has a PhD in History, sings in a garage rock band, and does many things. He is the author of the forthcoming book "The Paris Bureau" from Dio Press (early 2021).

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18 Responses

  1. Rufus F. says:

    Note on a Note: Looking to blog a bit more frequently, I’m thinking of posting some of my regular notes to myself here. The inspiration is Jeff Nunokawa’s increasingly well-known Facebook notes, although I doubt I can write anything as eloquent and thought-provoking. My hope is also to keep these briefer (roughly 200 or 300 words) than my usual verbosity. Finally, this is intended as a commentary more on the paragraph I quoted than the novel itself- feel free to chime in!Report

  2. “In 2012, his fascination with the “filth of promiscuity” likely seems old fashioned and “sex negative”, and his characters’ alcoholism seems positively antiquated in an era in which the situation of the poor has improved to the point that they have meth.”

    Promiscuity was literally filth back in the 1800s though, before penicillin and treatments for sexually-transmitted diseases and relative availability of healthcare.Report

    • Certainly this is true, but part of what Zola’s doing in that paragraph is deflecting criticisms about the still somewhat shocking amount of sex in the novel. He’s also a bit repulsed by sex for all his fascination. In Nana, a novel about a promiscuous woman, he makes the same comparison to filth quite often, centrally comparing the promiscuous courtesan to a fly that has flown up from the dung heap of the ghetto to infect the higher classes with disease. For all that, he’s still very sympathetic to his promiscuous female characters and I wonder at times if his condemnatory passages aren’t basically defensive.Report

      • Nana is the only work of Zola I have read, sadly. I do remember being a bit put off by what I thought as a kind of classism, but utimately dismissed it, since Nana is painted in a nuanced and generally sympathetic light throughout.Report

  3. I also want to second TVD above that I dig these posts. I asked a blogging friend of mine for advice last week, and he said to basically keep posts short and frequent – i.e. several a day and all well under 1000 words. I think he has a point (although I definitely enjoy the occasional 6000-word plus post from Freddie deBoer or Glenn Greenwald).Report

    • I agree with the whole digging the posts thing.

      I read Rufus’s posts because I learn a lot about works that, for the most part, I have not read – and I tend to love what he says about them.  So I enjoy the read, but have little to contribute to the discussion.  Sometimes I worry that this “absence” is seen as not reading or liking them.Report

      • I have that issue as well. We’ve had some conversations here before about this phenomenon. I think the “greatness” of any particular post has nothing to do with how many comments it generates. Some posts just don’t leave much open or don’t leave much room for disagreement or qualification. Some posts seem particularly prone to heated discussion, i.e. anything mentioning Ron Paul or atheism, etc.

        Do you think a post combining Ron Paul and atheism might generate the most comments ever?Report

      • Rufus F. in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        Tod, I appreciate that. I definitely try to bear in mind that plenty of times people read them but have little to say about them. And I’ve been there myself with lots of posts here where I can’t think of anything to add. Sometimes I get discouraged when I work forever on some post and it gets no comments, but usually I think to myself that I post things here because they’re thing I want to see on the net and that doesn’t really change.Report

    • Christopher: I definitely can see the appeal of short burst posts, but I also like the fact that we do the longer posts here- actually, I think it was part of the mission statement once upon a time. So, I’m going to do more of these little things and probably keep doing the lengthier pieces to deal with a text in depth. It’s just that those long ones seem to take a long time to write and I start missing the feedback!Report

  4. I totally agree that I like the fact that we do longer posts here. But, by way of illustration, currently, in my Chrome browser with forty or so open tabs of stuff I need to read, there is your post on Hobbes, Jason’s post on Hobbes, the many thoughtful comments on my most recent post that deserve a response, the Leaguefest post, Jason’s other Hobbes post, David Ryan’s father’s blog, and TVD’s recent abortion post. All of those I have neglected to read in depth thus far because I want to read them in detail and respond intelligently to them. But, by this point I’m not sure whether anyone will notice. Such is the blogosphere.Report

    • Yeah, I try to stick to one or two hours online per day and this site is totally thwarting that as of late. I wonder if other people have the same difficulties here, or if it’s just the twenty or so of us who hang about regularly.Report