Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Marjorie Garber: Symptoms of Culture

This is one of the dorkiest books I've read in awhile. It's been on my shelf since I-don't-know-when: definitely after college, but years. And I don't know why I picked it up, I must have been inspired one day to read some sort of college-like textbook. Don't get me wrong, the essays are right up my alley, but really? Even the cover is dorky. Garber directs the Center for Literary and Cultural Studies at Harvard, and seems to be an expert on Shakespeare and all things Fruedian. I loved the first half of this book- she deconstructs (I know, right?) things like "culture" "symptoms" and "syndromes." The first essay, on what makes "great" things "great" was really fabulous. She looks at the connections between Christianity and sports and gentility and Jewishness. It's just that at the halfway point in this book, she got into her main obsession (or fetish, to use a Garber-ian term): Shakespeare, and lost me completely. I started skimming, something I never do. But hey, this was a book I really have no idea why I was reading, so I feel absolved. Garber writes with a wit that belies the serious nature of her topics, and any of the first 5 or so essays is well worth reading.


spotted dog farm said...

have you read - or maybe even posted about - dog love by garber? it was an interesting, accessible read.

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