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A sentimental book trying to criticize sentimentality
am 18. Juli 2013
Where to start?
The very idea that sentimentality is taking too much place in our society is rarely debated. I was curious to read what this author had to say about it. This was supposed to be a book I would agree with, at 99%...
The first half of the book gets many points right (hence the 2 stars). Examples about how children, courts and other aspects of our lives are surrounded by useless and diverting sentimentality are well chosen. Some example are numbered, others at least argued for.
The second half becomes an emotional rant about many aspects of life he doesn't like. The book digresses, for example there is a long section about African countries. I understand the author lived there, but I am not interested in his view on politics there and how we should help (or not): this has nothing to do with this book. Even if it had a slight relation to emotionality, the author doesn't even try to outline & defend his points.
What disturbed me the most, are the far right tendencies of this book. A few examples:
- The author criticizes "intellectuals" in general (whatever that means).
- He criticizes free human relationships (including the freedom to divorce). I would be ready to listen to what he has to say about this, but again: no argument. Somehow we should accept that our society is falling apart for applying sentiment to the only thing that has to be about sentiment (marriage & love).
- He also, in 3 sentences, declares unilaterally the following: Christian persons are less emotional than non believers. His pseudo-argument? That humanism leads to more sentimentatlity than faith (as if secularists were all volunteering in African work camps...).
These are just examples...
I am not rating this book poorly because I don't like the author's point of view (family, values, religion), but rather because:
- This book is highly emotional. Many points are not explained. The absence of argument is precisely a sign of sentimentality.
- The author uses this book to promote his political views (e.g. criticizing PM Brown). I would see no problem with that if they were vaguely relevant to the topic at hand...but they aren't. At the very least, I fail to see why, and the author doesn't attempt to convince me otherwise.
Maybe the author thinks of himself as a modern Ayn Rand. Alas, I prefer the original.
This book is not about sentimentality. It is a sentimental essay trying to convince the reader that our society is falling apart (mostly because of left-wing, non religious, divorce-friendly people). I can open any bad Sunday paper to get the same (emotional) impression.