Saturday, April 9, 2011

O, she is rich in beauty, only poor,

I've made good progress through my 32nd book from The List, Slaughterhouse-Five, and should be able to finish it today.  It's a pretty quick read, so I suppose it would be shameful to take any longer than a week. 

In light of recent political discussions in the United States, specifically those concerning whether or not the Government should be cutting taxes to its' wealthiest citizens, I found a couple of passages from Slaughterhouse-Five very interesting.  Especially since it was written 42 years ago.  "America is the wealthiest nation on Earth, but its people are mainly poor, and poor Americans are urged to hate themselves" writes Vonnegut.  It was the second book in a row that talked of this subject.  In my last read, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Jake Blount, a labor organizer, basically states the same thing, when he wonders why the United States can be so rich, while most of it's people can be so poor.

When the discussion turns to tax cuts for the wealthiest 1 or 2% of the country, the same question arises.  Why is the country so rich, but it's people so poor?  And why would so many of them support a tax cut for those who can afford it, at the expense of those who cannot?  I am reminded of a quote from John Steinbeck, author of The Grapes of Wrath, one of the books from The List.  "Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat, but as temporally embarrassed millionaires."  I guess many feel they'll be the next to enter that 1 or 2% and don't want to have to pay when they get there.

But I don't bring this up to be political, but rather to point to the relevancy of these books, so many years after they were first published.  While so much else may have changed, many of the themes explored in literature nearly a century ago, continue to be at the forefront of the political discussion today.  The more things change, the more they seem to stay the same.  It's just another reason the great books of yesteryear and today, will continue to be the great books of tomorrow.

In case you missed it, I did an interview with TIME aout reading The List, or rather their list, yesterday.  You can read about it here.

No comments:

Post a Comment