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What is a Man?
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060392967, Hardcover)What is a man? Good question. According to Waller Newell, a professor of philosophy and political science and a contributor to The Weekly Standard, the last few generations have been "a bad dream" during which the answer to that question has been obscured. Modern representations of manhood as diverse as Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club and David Foster Wallace's Brief Interviews with Hideous Men are cited as proving his point.
Organizing excerpts from a variety of Western literary sources into eight broad sections--the Chivalrous Man, the Gentleman, the Wise Man, the Family Man, the Statesman, the Noble Man, the American Man, and the Invisible Man--Newell traces what he sees as "an unbroken pedigree in the Western conception of what it means to be a man." What Is a Man? promises to "inspire men and boys to reach for the seemingly lost ideals of honor, heroism and integrity," by providing "a source to which concerned readers could turn for guidance and inspiration, a path back to the wisdom of our shared traditions of manly virtue." This approach will work particularly well if your opinions are closely aligned with Newell's; the inclusions reflect his affection for the traditional conception of the masculine demonstrated by the likes of Sir Thomas Malory and Thomas Bulfinch. But even if your masculine ideal differs, the book still makes for a fascinating compendium. And the omissions are as interesting as the inclusions (definitely no Oscar Wilde, but no Norman Mailer and so little Ernest Hemingway?).
Newell sees the lost hero in all of today's apparently baffled and frustrated men (he even refers to a squeegee guy with a Mohawk as a "road warrior Achilles"). His response to this collective confusion is this book of virtues--a kind of literary companion to Susan Faludi's Stiffed--which he hopes will be not only interesting but instructive as well. --J.R.
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:07 -0400)
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