Why I like Postmodern Literature and Modernist Literature

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TUF
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20 Dec 2018, 8:05 am

I like these genres and NTs around me think I like it because I'm showing off. I'm really not. If I was then my third favourite genre wouldn't be YA fiction and then comic books.
I like it because some of it's almost like a game. When the language/structure is completely played about with eg House of Leaves. When I was a kid, I liked Choose Your Own Adventure stories best and not being able to understand it all at once so having to pick your own path through feels a bit like that. Also, these movements encourage/d really original writing and thinking. I like the word play types of books with puns in and the other books that play games with the readers and mess about with the structure.
I was talking at book club and I was the only one who likes rereading books. People said 'why do that, you just get the same experience'. 1 Not too bad to do that as an aspie then... (I like having the same experience) and 2 I never actually get the same experience when I read something like Ulysses or House of Leaves. Once I have the same experience, I abandon a book and take it to a charity shop so someone else can get their multiple reads out if it. 3 I love that a book earns its keep, so many books cost over £5 these days so they really shouldn't be single read things like magazines are.
It's funny how people think I'm showing off when I get nothing but negative responses socially to it. The only person who encourages it is my stepdad who I think is aspie too. Now he does like to show off. For eg, he 'only likes classical music' even though he likes country and rock and roll best and 'only reads classics' even though he actually only reads kids' picture books (I quite like that too but I'd only ever admit it on here or to other aspies, it's the pictures I like in kids books). He likes having a stepdaughter who reads Joyce. I don't like reading Joyce for that pompous reason but because it's fun for me and because it's Irish and because it's beautifully written.
I don't think I understand all of these books, as in understanding them in their entirety. But I'm OK with that. I struggle with that a bit in other fiction aimed at adults too, where I don't always understand character's motives (an autism thing?)or how they interact with each other socially (again, an autism thing?)



Prometheus18
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20 Dec 2018, 8:14 am

Postmodernism is an unfunny joke, assuming there's such a thing at all. I love modernist art, however, which I would define in literary terms as extending from Baudelaire to Joyce (inclusive), in musical terms from Mussorgsky to Shostakovich (inclusive) and in painting terms from Monet to Dali. I think serious art died when Modernism was rejected in the 1960s, which leaves me, as a man with serious artistic interests (not pretensions, like most of the tawdry pseuds one encounters at book clubs) feeling that I'm permanently stuck in the 1950s, despite not having been born then.

I'm currently listening to Bartok's Piano Concerto #1. Such a serious musical indictment of the machine age would, I assume, be impossible now.



kraftiekortie
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20 Dec 2018, 8:40 am

I'm a man who likes Victorian literature myself. And American Realism.

I find some Modernist literature to be purposely obtuse, abstruse, and experimental just for the sake of being experimental. I find some to be fine, however.

I don't like too much dissonance in music---so I don't tend to go for "experimental" music. Though some of it, if it sounds pleasant, can be at least all right.

I wouldn't say I would have a negative reaction to someone who likes Modernist/Postmodernist things---as long as that person is a nice person.

You have nice conservatives, and nasty liberals. There aren't too many nice Nazis around, though.



IsabellaLinton
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21 Dec 2018, 7:09 pm

kraftiekortie wrote:
I wouldn't say I would have a negative reaction to someone who likes Modernist/Postmodernist things---as long as that person is a nice person.


I might be able to forgive a person for reading PML as well. Perhaps they can't help themselves. :wink: :heart:

Welcome aboard, TUF!



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22 Dec 2018, 2:58 pm

TUF wrote:
I like these genres and NTs around me think I like it because I'm showing off. I'm really not. If I was then my third favourite genre wouldn't be YA fiction and then comic books.
I like it because some of it's almost like a game. When the language/structure is completely played about with eg House of Leaves. When I was a kid, I liked Choose Your Own Adventure stories best and not being able to understand it all at once so having to pick your own path through feels a bit like that. Also, these movements encourage/d really original writing and thinking. I like the word play types of books with puns in and the other books that play games with the readers and mess about with the structure.


I think it's really cool you like these books. They do have a lot of interesting thinking, though I'll admit that I enjoy a lot of what influenced postmodernism much more than postmodernism itself. I admire the talents of Pynchon or Barthelme, but prefer Borges, Kafka, and Joyce. Or Hamlet or Tristram Shandy, which do a lot of what the postmodernists do, but far earlier. You could say the same of Jonathan Swift, too.

That said, I can't really knock postmodernism like I have in the past. It's just a label, and doesn't necessarily reflect the artists its meant to cover. All time periods have satisfying and unsatisfying art.

Quote:
I was talking at book club and I was the only one who likes rereading books. People said 'why do that, you just get the same experience'.


Sounds like you're in the wrong book club. What do they like--James Patterson?


Quote:
It's funny how people think I'm showing off


I hate that, too. They would only read it to show off, therefor you must be reading it to show off. Because everyone should be the same.

Quote:
I don't think I understand all of these books, as in understanding them in their entirety. But I'm OK with that.


If you do, then it's probably a bad book.

Quote:
I think serious art died when Modernism was rejected in the 1960s


No 60s jazz? Frank Zappa? Van Dyke Parks?

No Ted Hughes?? Or Marianne Moore?

No Dorothea Lange? No Cindy Sherman?

What great art is (wholly) serious?


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TUF
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22 Dec 2018, 3:53 pm

I like modernism and older books like that do similar things, too (I was going to say including Tristam Shandy but I haven't read it in 10 years. I really need to get over my Hamlet phobia, it’s a rebellion against my stepdad and against a lecturer who didn’t set the text or even suggest the text then kept quoting it during our Shakespeare classes… Joyce is one of my favourite writers.

The people who think I’m showing off are a lot of people. The women in the library where I used to work, yes. James Patterson type books, I think. All crime novels. And they asked what I read ‘for fun’ and wouldn’t take ‘postmodernism’ for an answer. I said ‘celebrity biographies’ which is true, I do if they have also had horrible lives as well as nice ones (basically celebrities with mental illnesses or real rags to riches stories or something) and especially if I have a specialist interest in them. They said ‘oh we didn’t think you were that sort of person’. I don’t know if they wanted me to say star trek novellas (all my ex used to read) or what?

My book club actually like classic stuff like Dickens. And then stuff like Ian Fleming… And they like non-fiction political stuff. There was one woman there who I really got along with, she liked kids’ books. That’s the thing – I don’t like it to show off. I really like well-crafted kids’ books too. She liked attention to detail and I do too. She also liked fantasy novels, which I can’t get along with. They judged her in a snob way and now they’re judging me in a reverse snob way. And they read similar historical fiction to me. So basically they’re realists.

The woman who was judging me seems to not read and was only brought in to organise us… it’s annoying… she has a lit degree from Uni and liked Dickens back then but she was like ‘I was caught off guard so I wasn’t reading anything’. Myself, I’m always reading something. Although I’m quite tempted this time around to talk about the article I read in Scientific America about how dinosaurs and birds are the same group and scientists call birds ‘non-avian dinosaurs’, because that fascinates me. I’m going to talk about If on a winter’s night a traveller though.

You can discuss whatever you want, which fits a theme, which is rare in a book club and quite nice. This month’s theme is beginnings.

I know. I can tell when someone’s showing off, too. It’s fairly easy. If I know a topic, I discuss it with them as if they do – the approach I always use. Then if they’re showing off, they have nothing to contribute to a conversation and if they’re not showing off, we can have a nice conversation. And if they want to like something but are only beginning to (like me and science) I can educate them in a friendly way. That’s what I’d want if I told someone I didn’t really know science but I like to learn about it.

I don’t understand showing off. Like I said, my stepdad does it all the time. The one thing which he does genuinely love is pre-Raphaelite art. Even if that was seen as smut or for children or something, he’d still love it.

It can be hard though to understand why someone likes something. I’m so lyrics obsessed that I can’t understand why people like classical music or opera. I don’t not believe them, though. I just realise they get something else out of it.

Yes, a lot of people I meet want to understand something in its entirety. Way I see it, that’s really expensive to do unless you only read library books or books from charity shops. I bought House of Leaves for £10 (I think, between that and £20) and I read it every 3 years or so. Different experience each time, well worth the money.

I figured the money/reread thing out as a preteen. Mum used to allow me to buy three books at the airport library for a holiday. If I got one which was at a suitable level to challenge me, it could last a week or so. If I got a typical Jacqueline Wilson, I read it through the flight then didn’t want to reread it.

Entirely serious art sounds a bit boring tbh. Mind you, I did scrap something in the sequence I’m writing for the opposite reason – being way too silly. (I might post it on here though for a laugh)

I get the disdain for postmodernism, to an extent. I feel it for postmodern visual art. Because what fascinates me about visual art is realistic portrayal of details. My favourite art comes from the Renaissance. The more detailed the better. All my favourite artists of the mid-late 20th/early 21st century are autistic and rather obscure. But postmodern lit, modernist lit and the lit which precedes it (including ‘children’s literature’ like Alice in Wonderland) is full of such small and clever details. I like postmodern literature and postmodern drama but not postmodern visual art or postmodern music.

Talking of Ted Hughes, they said it because I said I reread his wife's book (Sylvia Plath obviously) The Bell Jar. Last time I read it was 12 years ago and I'm only 30. That's basically most of my adult life that I haven't read it. I came to the conclusion it's a better book to read at 30 than at 18 and that it's easier to understand the more obscure book Ariel after it, rather than before it.

They talk down to me a fair bit because I'm under 50. They say 'at our age we don't have time for that'. I'll always have time for it, at least til I'm actually old, like 80+.



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22 Dec 2018, 4:16 pm

Thanks for your explanation. I'm still a bit confused about one thing. Who are these people who think you are "showing off"? People in a library are among them?! That's so absurd! Why would someone be offended by what you choose to read? Why is postmodernism published and made available in the library if you aren't allowed to like it?

I study Victorian, Romantic and Gothic Literature, Literary Criticism and Biographies of 19th century authors. Never in my life have I been told that's pompous. I'm sure some people think it sounds drab or they conjure stereotypes about the genres, but to the best of my knowledge no one thinks I'm showing off. They know I'm an academic and that literature is also my special interest, as a person on the spectrum.

I'm sorry you encountered such bigotry and all I can say is ... keep reading.



Prometheus18
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22 Dec 2018, 4:25 pm

HighLlama wrote:
No 60s jazz? Frank Zappa? Van Dyke Parks?

No Ted Hughes?? Or Marianne Moore?

No Dorothea Lange? No Cindy Sherman?

What great art is (wholly) serious?


Insofar as I am familiar with those people, which is not to any great extent, I have no respect for their work whatever.

In respect of seriousness, I meant serious in the sense of "seeking to establish an idea" rather than in the sense opposed to - say - "humorous". By this standard, no fiction published subsequent to 1968 or so can be considered serious, as all later writers adopted the absurd theory of post structuralism propounded by charlatans like Foucault and Derrida.



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22 Dec 2018, 4:49 pm

IsabellaLinton wrote:
Thanks for your explanation. I'm still a bit confused about one thing. Who are these people who think you are "showing off"? People in a library are among them?! That's so absurd! Why would someone be offended by what you choose to read? Why is postmodernism published and made available in the library if you aren't allowed to like it?

I study Victorian, Romantic and Gothic Literature, Literary Criticism and Biographies of 19th century authors. Never in my life have I been told that's pompous. I'm sure some people think it sounds drab or they conjure stereotypes about the genres, but to the best of my knowledge no one thinks I'm showing off. They know I'm an academic and that literature is also my special interest, as a person on the spectrum.

I'm sorry you encountered such bigotry and all I can say is ... keep reading.


Libraries in the UK have sacked all the staff and replaced them with volunteers to save money. Which is OK in principle. But in my village the women they replaced them with (almost all female, almost all over 60) are not the right sorts of people to volunteer. They didn't even like books and were bigots and gossiped about the customers in offensive ways including racist ways. .

I went to library school. When I was trying to get a job, before my breakdown, I volunteered there to get some experience to put on my CV. Those women were not the right sorts to talk about books with. I tried very hard to fit in with them but I couldn't and principles wouldn't allow it.

Sadly our library didn't stock postmodern literature or much literature at all. I think you'll be happy to hear it had Frankenstein and a bit of Dickens but that was it. Our bigger sections were crime and romance (not your sort of romance), mostly Mills and Boon. I have nothing against people who choose to read this stuff but it's sad that they didn't stock more literary fiction as well. It was similar in the non-fiction section which was very old celebrity biographies, rather old political books, a few sports and gardening books and reference books like dictionaries. And a lot of self help.

That was a long time ago, I've since moved house, become a full time writer/disabled person, and joined a book club and I'm getting the same sort of responses. I was wondering if it was an aspie versus NT difference. For eg, when you (specifically you) read a Victorian book is it all for plot or is it also for the beautiful writing style and the details found amongst the pages? I don't think NTs pick up on that stuff, especially if they don't write.

I'm not a big fan of Victorian stuff anymore but when I did read it, what I liked in it was that visual and other sensory detail. We studied it closely at school (actual school. A scene of 'Great Expectations' before any dialogue was introduced, sorry I can't remember which chapter it was precisely as this was eighteen years ago)

I like the Brontes, too. But mostly for story telling and characters.



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22 Dec 2018, 5:32 pm

I'm a Brontë scholar with particular interest in Emily's life and works. I started a Wrong Planet reading group about Wuthering Heights in October. The link is viewtopic.php?t=368972 if you'd like to take a look. Several members enjoyed contributing, including those who were new to the novel. Perhaps you can start something similar here for M/PML. kraftiekortie and I occasionally read Modernism (I'm currently reading Lawrence), and Redxk has a special interest in Virginia Woolf and Mrs. Dalloway. I'm sure there are others who would share your interest!

I've not joined public reading groups in the past because I take considerable licence over what I read, and at what pace. I don't know if what you've encountered with groups was an NT / ND issue or if you have just stumbled upon readers who didn't share your interest, at that point in time. Have you sought to join any specific reading groups just for M/PML ?

I know about the transition of staffing library volunteers, and have found it frustrating as well when they aren't well-read or articulate about various genres. The trend toward popular fiction in libraries is frustrating as well (again, nothing against pop fiction, but I prefer a wider range). My village library doesn't even shelve the classics, with most titles geared toward young adult readers, graphic novels and how-to books. Is it possible for you to access a University library? I find the atmosphere is more conducive to quiet study and comprehensive research of niche topics.

The Brontës are my primary interest in 19 C Literature. My research focus is on Emily (WH but also her poetry), Villette, the social history of Haworth, Charlotte's letters, biographies of the family, and criticism (particularly Davies, Alexander and Whitehead). I also enjoy George Eliot and Thomas Hardy. I read most of Dickens in my undergrad and esteem him but I haven't reread any of his work apart from Great Expectations. When I'm reading the Brontës I focus on narrative technique, the parallels with their lives and the connections to social history from the period. I'm driven not by plot (Villette scarcely has plot, and WH is macabre), but by the authors' psychology and literary tradition. I read Emily as a student of German romanticism and as a gothic genius. She was a philosopher and lyricist, first and foremost.

I am interested in Emily's personality, as considerable research suggests she was possibly on the spectrum. Lucy Snowe of Villette also demonstrates autistic characteristics, and I find Brontë literature unparalleled in this regard for female writers of the period. Sorry I'm rambling and I hope I don't sound pompous. I'm just a literature nerd, and I welcome you to the fold. Please feel free to read whatever you'd like and I'd love to hear about it, or see your posts!

Isabella



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23 Dec 2018, 8:55 am

Prometheus18 wrote:
HighLlama wrote:
No 60s jazz? Frank Zappa? Van Dyke Parks?

No Ted Hughes?? Or Marianne Moore?

No Dorothea Lange? No Cindy Sherman?

What great art is (wholly) serious?


Insofar as I am familiar with those people, which is not to any great extent, I have no respect for their work whatever.

In respect of seriousness, I meant serious in the sense of "seeking to establish an idea" rather than in the sense opposed to - say - "humorous". By this standard, no fiction published subsequent to 1968 or so can be considered serious, as all later writers adopted the absurd theory of post structuralism propounded by charlatans like Foucault and Derrida.


Thanks for the explanation, as far as "seeking to establish an idea." I think sometimes people assume older art is academic and serious (like the people who don't realize how dirty Shakespeare is), without seeing it for what it is. I agree about Foucault and Derrida--I don't like them either. How do you define establishing an idea, in art?


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23 Dec 2018, 9:28 am

Yeah, I don't like Derrida or Foucalt. I got into trouble at uni because I paraphrased the Derrida item on Wikipedia too much. It's because I couldn't understand it.
My tastes for lit crit are rather political I'm afraid. I like postcolonial, feminist (not of the postmodern, SJW variety which we thankfully were just too early for at my uni but of the 'what was the struggle for a Victorian woman to get published' variety) and Marxist analysis. I liked it because it dealt with people's material realities and struggles.
I wish we did an autistic related study of texts like Isabella seems to be doing but we didn't. For my dissertation, I studied dystopia.
But outside of uni I don't read serious lit crit. I read criticism of particular texts or I read/listen to fan base stuff, not very serious, such as Nerd Writer 1 on YouTube.
Then I went to library school which I hated so I didn't really think about the work as I did it. Mum made me do it so I could get a steady job, lol, didn't turn out very well. I really wish I studied creative writing. I'm going back to uni for a short course in January which is creative writing though and I've done a lot like that since. I just can't afford an MA in it.



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23 Dec 2018, 9:37 am

TUF wrote:
Yeah, I don't like Derrida or Foucalt. I got into trouble at uni because I paraphrased the Derrida item on Wikipedia too much. It's because I couldn't understand it.
My tastes for lit crit are rather political I'm afraid. I like postcolonial, feminist (not of the postmodern, SJW variety which we thankfully were just too early for at my uni but of the 'what was the struggle for a Victorian woman to get published' variety) and Marxist analysis. I liked it because it dealt with people's material realities and struggles.
I wish we did an autistic related study of texts like Isabella seems to be doing but we didn't. For my dissertation, I studied dystopia.
But outside of uni I don't read serious lit crit. I read criticism of particular texts or I read/listen to fan base stuff, not very serious, such as Nerd Writer 1 on YouTube.
Then I went to library school which I hated so I didn't really think about the work as I did it. Mum made me do it so I could get a steady job, lol, didn't turn out very well. I really wish I studied creative writing. I'm going back to uni for a short course in January which is creative writing though and I've done a lot like that since. I just can't afford an MA in it.


Hi TUF,
I will reply to your PM after Christmas as I'll be quite busy in the next few days, but thanks for your message. If you are interested in autistic females in Literature I recommend Charlotte Brontë's Villette. I'll chat more about it later, but for now you may want to read the reviews particularly by Virginia Woolf and George Eliot.

Cheers and Happy Holidays.



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23 Dec 2018, 9:40 am

TUF wrote:
Yeah, I don't like Derrida or Foucalt. I got into trouble at uni because I paraphrased the Derrida item on Wikipedia too much. It's because I couldn't understand it.
My tastes for lit crit are rather political I'm afraid. I like postcolonial, feminist (not of the postmodern, SJW variety which we thankfully were just too early for at my uni but of the 'what was the struggle for a Victorian woman to get published' variety) and Marxist analysis. I liked it because it dealt with people's material realities and struggles.
I wish we did an autistic related study of texts like Isabella seems to be doing but we didn't. For my dissertation, I studied dystopia.
But outside of uni I don't read serious lit crit. I read criticism of particular texts or I read/listen to fan base stuff, not very serious, such as Nerd Writer 1 on YouTube.
Then I went to library school which I hated so I didn't really think about the work as I did it. Mum made me do it so I could get a steady job, lol, didn't turn out very well. I really wish I studied creative writing. I'm going back to uni for a short course in January which is creative writing though and I've done a lot like that since. I just can't afford an MA in it.


I would have done library science, but my university got rid of that major just before I got there. I hope you enjoy the writing course!

Do you like Harold Bloom? I reread his books Genius and Shakespeare: the Invention of the Human over and over. I also enjoy Camille Paglia, A.C. Bradley, and Harold Goddard. Anthony Burgess wrote some great non-fiction on literature, too. And Oscar Wilde's "The Critic as Artist," a masterpiece.

Are you familiar with H.G. Wells' reactions to Joyce? I find them interesting and touching, especially since Wells' style is so different from Joyce. Wells was a huge admirer of Ulysses, but felt Joyce left behind the "common man" with Finnegans Wake. I like Finnegans Wake as is, but still find it moving that a writer of such economic style as Wells would be so invested in a voice as broad and natural as Joyce's.


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23 Dec 2018, 9:49 am

HighLlama wrote:
Prometheus18 wrote:
HighLlama wrote:
No 60s jazz? Frank Zappa? Van Dyke Parks?

No Ted Hughes?? Or Marianne Moore?

No Dorothea Lange? No Cindy Sherman?

What great art is (wholly) serious?


Insofar as I am familiar with those people, which is not to any great extent, I have no respect for their work whatever.

In respect of seriousness, I meant serious in the sense of "seeking to establish an idea" rather than in the sense opposed to - say - "humorous". By this standard, no fiction published subsequent to 1968 or so can be considered serious, as all later writers adopted the absurd theory of post structuralism propounded by charlatans like Foucault and Derrida.


Thanks for the explanation, as far as "seeking to establish an idea." I think sometimes people assume older art is academic and serious (like the people who don't realize how dirty Shakespeare is), without seeing it for what it is. I agree about Foucault and Derrida--I don't like them either. How do you define establishing an idea, in art?


If its overall content states something about the world that has semantic value. Tristram Shandy, while a subversive and humorous novel meets this standard, because it's a satire of the intellectual pretensions and uncouth manners of British gentlemen of the eighteenth century. I don't believe Shakespeare necessarily passes this test at all events, but then I've never really liked much of Shakespeare anyway; those who pour adulation upon him unthinkingly are, I think, the sorts of pseuds the OP was accused of being. Certainly, I think Shakespeare's genius was massively inferior to that of many other national writers; Tolstoy certainly, Goethe probably and Dumas quite possibly.

TUF wrote:
Yeah, I don't like Derrida or Foucalt. I got into trouble at uni because I paraphrased the Derrida item on Wikipedia too much. It's because I couldn't understand it.
My tastes for lit crit are rather political I'm afraid. I like postcolonial, feminist (not of the postmodern, SJW variety which we thankfully were just too early for at my uni but of the 'what was the struggle for a Victorian woman to get published' variety) and Marxist analysis. I liked it because it dealt with people's material realities and struggles.
I wish we did an autistic related study of texts like Isabella seems to be doing but we didn't. For my dissertation, I studied dystopia.
But outside of uni I don't read serious lit crit. I read criticism of particular texts or I read/listen to fan base stuff, not very serious, such as Nerd Writer 1 on YouTube.
Then I went to library school which I hated so I didn't really think about the work as I did it. Mum made me do it so I could get a steady job, lol, didn't turn out very well. I really wish I studied creative writing. I'm going back to uni for a short course in January which is creative writing though and I've done a lot like that since. I just can't afford an MA in it.


Nobody understands Derrida or Foucault, because they weren't meant to be understood, insofar as they rejected the notion of semantic meaning altogether as a cultural/social construct. The less said about those two (ironically quite Bourgeois) fools, the better.

I have immense respect for early feminist writers like Mary Wollstonecraft and John Stuart Mill; I have no respect whatever for any recent feminist author that I know of for reasons already given. I have nothing more than contempt for so-called post colonialists, who deliberately and cynically foment racial tensions in the west to advance their careers.
I love the early Marxist writers, though I disagree with much of what they have to say, but, again, I have no respect for recent Marxist authors who are tedious, conformist dullards with quite literally nothing to say. The only exceptions to this rule are Christopher Lasch and, arguably, Chomsky.