Saturday, July 22, 2006

The cultivation of a moral intelligence

The August 10 issue of the New York Review of Books (not yet online) includes an interesting collection of reminiscences about Barbara Epstein; one sentence by Pankaj Mishra (whose new book sounds very interesting) especially caught my attention, he's talking about what he learned working with her on an essay about reading Edmund Wilson in Benares (I remember reading that essay when it first appeared, it was strikingly good):

I began to see more clearly how literary and political journalism requires much more than the creation of harmonious and intellectually robust sentences; how it is linked inseparably to the cultivation of a moral and emotional intelligence; how it demands a reasonable and civil tone, a suspicion of abstractions untested by experience, a personal indifference to power, and, most importantly, a quiet but firm solidarity with the powerless.

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