Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Visit to Vanity Fair: Moral Essays on the Present Age

In A Visit to Vanity Fair: Moral Essays on the Present Age, Alan Jacobs tackles themes big and diminutive in this somewhat wildly eclectic collection. Jacobs is an English professor at Wheaton College and his love of the language and it's impact upon our culture shines.

Although, only a tiny bit disjointed (it is an eclectic collection after all!), each essay flows with charity and humility from one subject to the next. Jacobs finds a lot to talk about in such a short book! From the possibility of--along with the pros and cons of ebooks (this book was written in 2001 prior to the creation of the Amazon Kindle) to the virtues of Harry Potter and the proper use of, I mean technology, Professor Jacobs uses his keen eye of the world and quick wit to engage creatively with moral questions and offers a cultural critique of the 21st Century from a Christian perspective. I especially appreciated his discussion of Bob Dylan and his classic record Blood on the Tracks.

Jacobs is obviously a fan of C.S. Lewis and W.H. Auden as those two writers are prominently quoted and referred to in almost every chapter.

Apparently, Jacobs has put together several collections of essays. He's obviously a gifted man when it comes to observation. In an attempt at a bit of self-deprecating humor in the essay on the "Lives of Essayists," Jacobs suggests that "if an essay is anything, it is the discourse of an inexpert." However, I would suggest Alan Jacobs is one of those sorts of writers who could write about virtually anything and transform it into something appealing by virtue of his insight and articulation! In my opinion Jacobs is one of the finest American writers out there and I'm looking forward to reading more books by him soon....stay tuned!

1 comment:

Neal Buck said...

I have this book but haven't read it yet. I've read his bio of Lewis, "The Narnian," and I thought it was one of the best treatments of Lewis's life and works that I'm familiar with. A friend of mine had Jacobs as a prof at Wheaton and said he was fantastic. I look forward to reading his essays when I get a chance.