Hope you don’t mind if I indulge in some egregious caricature.
In this morning’s post I wrote:
what liberal vanity loves about the facts is that having them makes the possessor feel smart. Liberals live to be able to say, “Did I tell you what I read last week?” and to then tell you. We don’t need what we read to justify what we feel because we feel justified by having read, period.
I stand by this. Liberals tend to be vain about being readers. And I’ll go further.
If you hear your average Right Winger saying something like “I never read Proust,” it’s a boast. He’s telling you, with a manly sneer, that he doesn’t have time for effete, elitist, Frenchy wastes of time and thought.
Now, if you hear your average liberal saying, “I’ve never read Proust,” and it’s not followed by, “in the original French,” it’s probably still a boast. But what he’s vain about is the reason, which he assumes you know, he hasn’t read Proust. He’s been too busy reading other authors.
Turgenev, for instance.
Alternatively, you might hear a liberal say, “Oh, I’ve never read Proust” in a way that sounds like apologetic self-recrimination, but that’s just a different kind of boast. This guy’s vain about the fact that he knows he should have read Proust by this time in his life. He’s vain in the same way some sinners are vain about their guilty consciences.
As it happens, I have read some Proust, but far from the whole of In Search of Lost Time. I suppose I could start now, Swan’s Way is sitting on the bookcase right behind me, but I just started another book. It’s called Virgin Soil.
It’s by Turgenev.