Reading War

Rod Dreher’s article “Doleful Pleas of a Father” is thoughtful, but the ending statement by novelist Mario Vargas Llosa that Dreher concurs with is false. Literature is not ideology free. Depending on how or what is written, literature can and often has served to reinforce status quo ideologies, or reactionary ideologies, militant ideologies, etc. Or, conversely, literature can be written to have a libratory effect.

The reading group Dreher joined purposely chose books for discussion that are removed from the present war in Iraq. They did this not because they think Iraq is not important, quite the contrary, but so that they might be able to learn something about war apart from a conflict that is so immediate and affecting on so many personal levels. Such thinking has a certain logic, but it also seems quite baselessly fearful and largely inept. After all, most people in the US oppose the war. You would think they would be more engaged, and less turned off, by novels about the Iraq war, not least a strong antiwar novel.

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