[lit-ideas] Re: Beauty, anyone?

  • From: Robert Paul <rpaul@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2007 13:22:12 -0800

I cannot share the enthusiasm for Scarry's book (which I've used in
class). It promises--even its title promises--far more than it really
gives; the attempt to link beauty and justice fails (is a fraud, I'd
say, if I weren't in such an inexplicably good mood), and her account
of Aristotle on justice is incoherent. It isn't even illustrated.

That Zadie Smith claims to have been inspired by On Beauty, in writing
her novel, On Beauty, can't be blamed on Scarry, of course, anymore
than the suggestion that the novel loosely tracks Howards End can be
blamed on Forster.

By far the best book on beauty, a concept for years lost to and derided by
'modern' esthetics and criticism, is Mary Mothersill's Beauty Restored
(1991). Mothersill is a philosopher.

Robert Paul
Reed College

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