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"The lost and the overburdened..."

From the conclusion of Nelson Algren's call-to-arms essay Nonconformity:

But behind Business's billboards and Business's headlines and Business's pulpits and Business's press and Business's arsenals, behind the car ads and the subtitles and the commercials, the people of Dickens and Dostoevsky yet endure.

The lost and the overburdened who have to meet life so head-on that they cannot afford either the tweeds that make such a strong impression in certain business circles or the deodorant that does almost as much for one socially. The lost and the overburdened too lost and too overburdened to spare the price of the shaving lotion that automatically initiates one into the fast international set.

It is there that the people of Dickens and Dostoevsky are still torn by the paradox of their own humanity; yet endure the ancestral problems of the heart in conflict with itself. Theirs are still the defeats in which everything is lost, theirs victories that fall close enough to the heart to afford living hope. Whose defeats cost everything of real value. Whose grief grieves on universal bones.

Stirring words.

April 13, 2011 in Books | Permalink