From the Publisher
Anders Henriksson, author of Non Campus Mentis Monty Python meets Immanuel Kant. Douglas and George have a delicious sense of the absurd.
Anne Fadiman, author of Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader Most humor writing is either smart but not funny or funny but not smart. In Sense and Nonsensibility, you have at long last a book that will not only make you laugh out loud but persuade those who see you reading it that your SAT scores were at least fifty points higher than they really were.
William H. Pritchard author of Shelf Life and Updike These "Lampoons of Learning and Literature" are both learned and extremely funny. The authors are thoroughly, indeed obsessively, in touch with the technology, sociology, and general weirdness of contemporary life (especially its academic aspects) and they provide us with original takes on crucial matters like Home Shopping, Footnotes, SAT scores, Crossover Bestsellers, and many others. The literary firm of Douglas and George should receive a medal for these satiric correctives of current foibles.
Melvin Jules Bukiet author of A Faker's Dozen Tired of reading about war crimes and the semiotics of quilting bees? Then perhaps Sense and Nonsensibility by Lawrence Douglas and Alexander George is for you. Biting any benign hand that has fed them and their progeny for years, Douglas and George chew upon the idiocies (as well as the idiohypnoglossia) of contemporary academics and publishers. This makes one ponder three fascinating questions: 1. how the hell did they get tenure? 2. how did any sane publisher accept this manuscript? 3. how can the rest of us continue to exist in a universe that also contains them? Simply put, they are curs and infidels and their work ought to appeal to same.
It's hard to resist chuckling quietly while reading this book, especially if one works in academia. Douglas and George, professors at Amherst College and columnists for the Chronicle of Higher Education, poke fun at just about every aspect of academe. Chapter 1, "Literary Mergers," puts forth a "Books Without Borders" series reconstituted combinations of classics, e.g., Huckleberry Faust (Twain and Goethe), As I Lay Frying (Dante and Faulkner), and Thatcher in the Rye (Salinger and Amis). "Affected Accent Summer Camp" suggests that anyone can learn a mysterious foreign accent that will dazzle and mystify students, peers, and colleagues. In "Further Tips to Tenure," the authors offer advice for junior faculty, including "use great care in deciding which committees to join." The result is a well-written and creative reminder not to take it all so seriously, that even in the course of academic pursuits, there is humor to be found. Best suited for public libraries. Valeda Dent, Hunter Coll. Lib., New York Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Read an Excerpt
This book is for people who, like ourselves, believe in culture in its existence and commercial value. It is for people who still believe in the "canon," that great body of learning and literature that has guided study and cultural debate for the last couple of thousand years. The canon has come under fire recently as the tired legacy of a small clique of dead white European males, most of whom rarely bathed and suffered from terrible gum disease. This is a book for those who disagree, those who strongly believe that Hegel remains as incomprehensible today as he was two centuries ago, and that Shakespeare is still as rewarding and relevant as SpongeBob.
This is also a book for scholars, students, and all those who have chosen to dedicate their existence to intellectual pursuits in a deeply anti-intellectual age. As professors writing about the rewards of learning, we hope to show that there is more to life than generous remuneration, social prestige, political power, erotic adventure, and basic happiness.
And yet, this is a book of modest ambition. Long ago we realized that we could not single-handedly reverse civilization's inexorable decline. We could, though, contribute to it. This is the path we have chosen. If we cannot revive the life of the mind from its increasingly vegetative state, then at least we could put a smile on the patient's face.
Copyright © 2004 by Lawrence Douglas and Alexander George