Thursday, May 7, 2015

With all the vanity of good souls

The new issue of Charlie Hebdo responds to the PEN boycotters:
Inside, a centerfold package of articles and cartoons addresses the PEN controversy.

In an opinion column written in a serious tone in contrast to the comic cartoons surrounding it, Philippe Lançon, a journalist shot in the face in the attack on Charlie Hebdo’s offices by Muslim extremists in January that left 12 dead, expresses his surprise at the PEN dissenters. He writes that he understands that some writers might want to distance themselves from PEN, and that the magazine itself mistrusts such institutions, “so as not to become one itself — one of those places where it’s indispensable to show how bien-pensant you are in order to get ahead and believe you’re loved.”

“It’s not their abstention that shocks me; it’s the nature of their arguments,” Mr. Lançon continues. “That novelists of such quality — Peter Carey, Michael Ondaatje, Francine Prose, Teju Cole, Rachel Kushner, Taiye Selasi — come to say so many misinformed stupidities in so few words, with all the vanity of good souls, is what saddens the reader in me.”

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