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Tom Wolfe/Charlotte Simmons

In November Tom Wolfe’s latest novel, “I Am Charlotte Simmons”, was published. It’s his effort to portray, in the Wolfean style, student life at a contemporary, elite, American university. It does so with a coarse realism equal to its subject matter.

The response from the professional critics has been overwhelmingly negative, sometimes bitterly so. (This in itself might be a reason to pay the book some attention.) On the other hand, the book has a minority of staunch defenders, like Harvey Mansfield and Mary Ann Glendon of Harvard, or, looking to the Internet, Steve Sailer and John Derbyshire. Notice how those who like the book all seem to be conservative in some sense.

Wolfe would no doubt abjure political labels. He is not religious, and “Rolling Stone” is not a frequent venue for traditional conservatives. But I think there’s a case to be made that a book like “Charlotte Simmons”, in showing what we’ve become in settings where we should be at our most refined and serious, does a service for traditional conservatism in both high and popular culture which a thousand jerimiads might fail to do.

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Presumably, the culture of liberalism has to hit bottom somewhere. Is this it, or can it get worse?

This culture is marked by two things: 1. the debasement of language, and 2. the debasement of women.

I suppose these two markers may be merely symptoms of the debasement of thought.