Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Review of Handing One Another Along: Literature and Social Reflection by Robert Coles

Handing One Another Along: Literature and Social Reflection
4 out of 5: In Handing One Another Along, Coles analyzes many classic writings (including non-fiction, fiction, and poetry) and asks “[w]hat happens to you when you read these books, what should be happening, not only to your mind as a cognitive instrument, but with respect to your conscience and even your yearning, if not also your lusts?” In answering this question, Coles looks at writings by James Agee, George Orwell, William Carlos Williams, Raymond Carver, and others.

Handing One Another Along originated with a series of lectures Coles delivered at Harvard, and its academic, conversational, and occasionally disorganized style reflects its origins. Touching on a wide range of themes and ideas, Coles moves quickly from one work of literature to another, drawing parallels and seeking universal truths. Occasionally, Coles moves beyond the written word and includes paintings and music in his analysis. Handing One Another Along is not an organized presentation of the moral precepts that can be gleaned from literature. Rather, it is an enjoyable meandering through literature with a view towards its larger social implications.

1 comment:

Zibilee said...

The ideas in this book and behind this book are very intriguing to me. I am not sure if it would go over my head or not, but it sounds wonderful! Thanks for sharing your thoughtful and concise review on this one. I may have to check it out!