To those of us in the universities, the Left’s animus to Catholicism revealed by Wikileaks this past week is not news. What Podesta and the Clinton circle said might have been exposed, but such slights about Catholicism are heard around universities all the time. As the Wall Street Journal points out, if such things were said about Islam they would be denounced as bigotry.
When Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games came out nearly a decade ago, it was a phenomenon. Named one of the best books of 2008 by Publishers Weekly, it spent a hundred weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, sold nearly 18 million copies, spawned two sequels, and was turned into a successful movie in 2012.
Collins did more than ensure her own success, however. Ever since J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter books became super-bestsellers in the late 1990s, the venerable genre of young-adult fiction grew to become the largest market for contemporary novels. Pure dystopias were rarely thought appropriate for young teen readers even then—not until the appearance of The Hunger Games somehow established them as a new subgenre. Publishers took Collins’ work as a template for the literary assembly line, and have been flooding the market with one dystopian series after another.
Is it possible to have civilization without killing?
J.R.R. Tolkien and George Martin approach this question in very distinct ways but they seem to agree the answer is “no.” Both believe that civilization needs the office of the knight: Because some seek power maliciously, others must unite ferocity and gallantry. “Fantasy” may be their genre, but there is a certain realism that runs through the civilizational stories these two authors have produced.
Middle-earth is, in one sense, the story of struggle against inevitable decline. While the Ring is destroyed and a new age of peace is ushered in, there is nevertheless the palpable sense that it is a reprieve as much as a victory—that decline has been temporarily arrested but not halted. After all, Gondor in its replenished splendor under the King is still only an imitation of Númenor; the Elves, wise teachers of Men and lovers of beauty, must depart to the havens and sail westward, never to return. In the midst of triumphant joy there is deep and poignant sorrow.