Fourteen years in the making, The Myth of the Enlightenment is Frederick Glaysher’s first collection of literary essays since The Grove of the Eumenides in 2007. Divided into three sections, these essays and reviews were all written during the 21st Century, with many of them central to his evolving intellectual and spiritual struggle to write his epic poem, The Parliament of Poets, which he completed and published in late 2012.
These essays open up Glaysher’s own biography and his life-long interest in the writings of Leo Tolstoy, Rabindranath Tagore, John Milton, Saul Bellow, Robert Hayden, and other poets and writers, offering a fresh, new vision of literature and culture...
“Frederick Glaysher throws down a gauntlet to all who consider themselves informed and reflective thinkers. He compels us to consider the daunting question of what we read and why. His persuasive answer is constituted by the thoughtful criticism of the Myth of Enlightenment, which insightfully examines important texts from Milton, Tagore, Tolstoy and others of that eminence. Through a series of astute readings, he grounds the canonical status of these works in their high worth as a wisdom literature. That is, they constitute the experiential knowledge gained from the examined lives of our greatest writers. Whatever one’s final judgment of this claim, it must be considered if only for the literary acumen of this author. In an era in which the value of human life has become as precarious and narrow as the study of the humanities itself, we need Glaysher’s voice more than ever.” —Phillip M. Richards, Colgate University, Department of English, author of Black Heart: The Moral Life of Recent African American Letters. Barnes & Noble, Amazon.UK
"This is a marvelous book of eloquent essays by Frederick Glaysher, one that honors the old literary masters, East and West, while exploring the deepest corners of spirituality and its implication for ameliorating the conditions of modern humanity. Reading each essay, whether it be Rabindranath Tagore, Saul Bellow, Tolstoy, or Robert Hayden, as examples, feels like entering into the secret chambers of the writer’s consciousness struggling “with what is universal in the human being”—struggling to express the universality of the human spirit.
Now more than ever, after centuries of falling down into the bottomless pit of nihilism, the world needs to recover the vision of universality, what the great religions and people of various centuries and cultures have in common. For all too long, humanity has obsessed with what distinguishes and separates, what divides people from one another, setting up our little racial, nationalistic gods and idols….Universality embraces all persuasions and transcends them. That is the great challenge.
"This quest is, as Glaysher clearly reveals, the never ceasing search for creative unity to which he and many others have given over their life, through their thoughts, words, and actions. The essays in this book aim for the author’s highest vision; that is, an attempt to “embody and represent the fullness of human reflection,” an inclination intended not just for academics, but a voice for all, and one that speaks to our time. And to that end, Glaysher has allowed himself to draw “from the soil of literature and culture whatever they need to produce and sustain their fruit.” In talking about his relationship with Robert Hayden, Glaysher tells us, “his own poetry had worked its way deep in to my consciousness.” I cannot think of a better way to describe how this book impresses itself on the reader; if there are millions of people waiting for a sign, as Allan Bloom is cited as saying, then this book is assuredly evidence of what such a sign looks like." —Julie Clayton, New Consciousness Review —Julie Clayton, New Consciousness Review
FROM the Book Flaps:
The Myth of the Enlightenment is Frederick Glaysher’s first collection of literary essays since The Grove of the Eumenides in 2007. Divided into three sections, these essays and reviews were all written during the 21st Century, with many of them central to his evolving intellectual and spiritual struggle to write his epic poem, The Parliament of Poets, which he completed and published in late 2012.
These essays open up Glaysher’s own biography and his life-long interest in the writings of Leo Tolstoy, Rabindranath Tagore, John Milton, Saul Bellow, Robert Hayden, and other poets and writers, offering a fresh, new vision for literature and culture...
I The Myth of the Enlightenment
“Of True Religion” by John Milton 15
Tolstoy and the Last Station of Modernity 21
Leo Tolstoy’s Hadji Murad 39
The Poet’s Religion of Rabindranath Tagore 43
Tagore and Literary Adaptation 72
Saul Bellow’s Ravelstein—The Closing of the American Soul 79
Robert Hayden Under a High Window of Angell Hall 87
Aristotle’s Poetics and Epic Poetry 104
Decadence, East and West 108
The Post-Gutenberg Revolution—A Manifesto 129
II Reviews and an Interview
Ben Jonson’s Bartholomew Fair 155
The American Scholar and the Decline of the English Department 157
Fang Lizhi and Human Rights in China 162
Bitter Winds, Indeed 167
Global Tragedies of Our Own Making 171
To My Opposite Number in Texas 173
Interview of the Author of The Bower of Nil 179
III Race in America
Robert Hayden’s Angle of Ascent 191
Creating Equal. Ward Connerly 198
Enough... Juan Williams 199
White Guilt. Shelby Steele 203
Reawakening the Dream. Shelby Steele 207
The Quest for Cosmic Justice. Thomas Sowell 210
Black Rednecks and White Liberals. Thomas Sowell 213
For Betty—Oh God, What Have We Done. David Horowitz 220
Winning the Race. John McWhorter 222
FROM the Preface
For over three-hundred years, civilization has been under the sway of the Myth of the Enlightenment. While the Enlightenment initiated a highly beneficial movement away from autocratic government and religion, a stifling reliance on past authorities, accompanied by an ever-increasing scientific and practical development, very early on stress and cracks began to be felt in the structure of the psyche and society. The twentieth century witnessed those cracks transmogrifying into crevasses of gaping and violent proportions, often circling the globe.
The last few decades have borne all the more testimony that the Myth of the Enlightenment has become part of the problem and no longer sufficiently comprises what is needed to resolve and heal what civilization is suffering from.
Speaking broadly, to reach the imagination of the entire culture, the cultural richness and plenitude of the humanities are essential and must include all of the religious and wisdom traditions. Story, myth, and drama reach the deepest into the psyche, as Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell, among others, understood, as they had learned from the greatest works of art and myth that were in fact at the core of their own studies.
Science cannot alone heal the divide that it, too, suffered as a result of the upheavals of the seventeenth century and modernity, though quantum physics suggests a transition of worldview. Neither can literature and the humanities alone heal the wound of civilization. It can only be done together, an act in itself that at last demonstrates the divide has been crossed, dramatizing it, as it were, for all to understand...