- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Looming large

“The new film adaptation of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ is one of the least necessary artistic projects of 2005. There have been so many. …

“Jane Austen’s famous opening sentence (‘It is a truth universally acknowledged …’) is intended to flatter the reader with feelings of worldly superiority to the claustrophobic society she writes about. But a couple centuries later, the joke is on the reader. Thanks to novelists like Austen and Anthony Trollope, people today whose own lives are different in almost every conceivable way share a feeling and a fondness for provincial life in Britain in the late 18th and 19th centuries. …

“The 19th century was a time when Britain mattered. … Today Britain doesn’t matter much. But who the new vicar will be in some fictional village 200 years ago still matters a lot. It is history’s consolation prize. Nineteenth-century English village life will always loom large in the world’s imagination, like Greenland in a Mercator projection map.”

— Michael Kinsley, “America’s Jane Austen,” Dec. 9 in Slate at www.slate.com

Campus giving

“This is the time of year when many college alumni respond to their nagging alma mater by sending a contribution check made out to the institution’s general fund. Here’s one word of advice: Don’t, unless you want to support theological and political liberalism. …

“If you have lots of money and want to make a big difference, go beyond campus groups, study centers and individual professors and work to set up programs within universities. Some moderates and conservatives, with great determination, have already done that at institutions like Princeton, Duke, Brown, Colgate, the U. of Colorado, City University of New York, the U. of Nebraska-Omaha and the U. of Alaska.

“Some of these programs are little more than beachheads. Some emphasize good free-market principles but not other biblical values. Others emphasize natural law in an appealing way, but don’t examine Scripture as deeply as they should. … To my knowledge, no major state or secular university has a program designed to advance Christian understanding in the campus marketplace, even though Islamic centers abound.”

— Marvin Olasky in “Beyond Knee-Jerk Giving” in the Dec. 10 issue of World

Pulitzer bait

“Barbara Boxer of California … is the proud author of a new political novel called ‘A Time to Run.’ It tells the story of someone who easily could be Ms. Boxer herself. The heroine is a liberal Democratic senator from California named Ellen Fischer who bravely challenges the nomination of a Supreme Court nominee who she fears would oppose Roe v. Wade. …

“The reviews have not been kind. W.C. Varones, a frequent reviewer for Amazon, flatly declared: ‘This isn’t Barbara Boxer’s book. It was written by [collaborator] Mary-Rose Hayes, whose prior works are a string of cheesy romance novels that went straight to out-of-print.’ When it comes to sex scenes the novel’s prose … is overripe: ‘Greg’s naked body was long and elegant, his embrace enveloped her utterly, and they meshed with ease and grace. He smelled good too, faintly and astringently of aftershave. He was clinging to her as if he’d never let her go, it was all so easy and right.’ …

“Does anyone really believe that publishers would be lining up to publish dreck such as Ms. Boxer’s were it not for her ‘Senate status’?”

— John Fund, writing on “Dr. Coburn, I Presume,” Dec. 12 in Opinion Journal at www.opinionjournal.com

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