Thursday, January 26, 2023

Not sure why I was fascinated

I'd forgotten about Cabell, but a post at the Mad Genius Club reminded me that long ago I liked his ironic satire and lively wit. The U of Illinois library had about 4 feet of bookshelf of his books, and I plowed through quite a lot of it before satiation struck and I noticed a deterioration in his work. He dreamed of writing an "adult" Alice in Wonderland--the trilogy that resulted is amazingly bad, but I was of the "finish what you start reading" school at the time.

After I'd been married a few years I tried to re-read one of his better books, and decided that a book of smirking wasn't to my taste. The mockery played better when I knew less, and his jabs at life and women seemed like sour grapes.

His world was too small and self-centered.

To quote wikipedia: "Interest in Cabell declined in the 1930s, a decline that has been attributed in part to his failure to move out of his fantasy niche despite the onset of World War II. Alfred Kazin said that "Cabell and Hitler did not inhabit the same universe"."

Irony and mockery are derivative--you could almost say parasitic. They need something solid to push against, and if he had something solid in him, I never saw it. In the meantime the culture changed, and much of his stuff mocks ghosts now.

Meh; skip his books.

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