Does Jonathan Franzen Belong On The Alt-Right?

Comments at the Chateau:

* Houellebecq, along with Tom Wolfe, are the greatest novelists of our age and, not coincidentally, they are also alt-right, neodark, reactoshivvian crimethinkers and sexual market surveyors of unparalleled keen perception.

The Left’s causes are exhausted, and their art reflects that. The Right’s causes have only just gathered strength, and their art is ascendant. Rebellion has always been a friend to expression.

* Franzen’s ‘Freedom’ is definitely a self-aware effort to extensively explore Evpsych’s cad-dad theories in literary form, and also contains some jabs at NPR-land and its Keillorite kapital in Minnesota.

IMO, ‘Freedom’ is largely successful in that exploration, though Franzen is far from being ‘one of us’ – at most, he’s a man of the Left who has become skeptical, is aware of the artistic power of Evpsych, and has some ability to insert our ideas esoterically into fiction that the reading classes will, well, read.

‘Purity,’ his most recent, is considerably less successful in this regard. It’s essentially gynocentric and progressive in its message, although it has its moments, and there is some good analysis of the cynicism of East German Marxism and the Left, and some tribute to the ability of alpha Game to thrive in any political environment (as it should, since archetype transcends ideology).

* Having studied literature in the leftist halls of academe, I cannot begin to describe how much Tom Wolfe is despised in those precincts. They consider him crass, and declasse.

But he is heir to the great novelistic tradition of Cervantes, Fielding, Dickens, and Trollope. At turns parodic yet penetratingly realistic, his work will be read long after lightweights like Toni Morrison are gathering dust.

I saw him once walking on streets of Manhattan –cape, white suit, fedora, dark shirt with upright color in the early 20th century tradition. The guys is a peacock in every sense.

* Tom Wolfe is absolutely brilliant, I’ve read all his work (multiple times), and the day that I learned he was shunned by academicians was the day I knew I wouldn’t be an academician.

N.B. He considers himself an heir to Zola and Balzac.


* My guess, re Franzen’s politics, is that he’s to the right of the current zeitgeist, but not necessarily a rightest in an absolute sense. A Reagan Democrat sort of guy. Freedom was pretty brutal to neocons and miners (one of the most right-leaning industries, by political donations) but also to environmentalists and NYC cat ladies on the left.

* The late John Updike was blithely unconcerned that many of the more literary members of Official Victim Groups feel oppressed by the fact that white men continue to make up a wildly disproportionate fraction of the most talented writers. Updike’s combination of overwhelming talent and well-adjusted Middle Americanness was particularly enraging to the rising powers.

The new generation, in contrast, has been acutely aware of being hated for who they are, with varying impacts: defiance in the case of Houellebecq, conflictedness and depression in the case of poor [David Foster] Wallace.

Updike worked really hard on The Coup, studying Africa for about a year before writing. Then he worked really hard on Rabbit Is Rich, taking approaching 3 years to write it.

After that, as he was in his 50s, he went to a book a year schedule and didn’t do anything that ambitious again.

Updike was quite convinced that he peaked in his later 40s and then went into steady decline, which he was oddly cheerful about. He didn’t try to stretch out the time between his books to keep up his quality level as he got older. He was kind of like Woody Allen, who peaked at about the same era in the late 1970s-early 1980s, and has stuck to a one movie per year schedule ever since. They had kind of a jock attitude that each year brings a new season and you rack up the best statistics you can, but you’re not going to get better as you get older.

* Franzen and Wallace were friends. With Franzen as the bitter, less-talented friend who relished Wallace’s death as a chance to step out of his shadow and claim the mantle of the Great American Writer of his Generation. Except nobody really cared while DFW is still revered.

* Though he denied it, it is clear from the recent biography that a lot of Updike’s writing was auto-biographical. After he remarried, his 2nd wife kept a much tighter rein on him. His more stable domestic life made him happier but probably a less interesting writer.

* One look at Houellebecq tells you he does not care. Up and coming writers writers, artists or journalists don’t dare say anything not politically correct about immigration, I expect they would be warned about the effect on their careers.

According to Martin van Creveld, France (and Germany) are far more open to anti feminist thought than the UK or US . Houellebecq like several others mentioned is basically an anti feminist writer.

* Like how Norwegian Knausgaard hates the Swedes, Frenchman Houellebecq resents the Anglo-Americans and their ideas such as feminism and free free market economics.

It’s a problem for patriots: how do you keep from annoying neighbors that you agree with over big issues just because they annoy you? One solution is to be big about it, but that takes some maturity. And the globalists can often easily manipulate patriots into snits over Freedom Fries and the like.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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