We’ll have more in the coming month about Jenny Davidson’s just-published Breeding: A Partial History of the Eighteenth Century. The book offers a fascinating portrait of eighteenth-century debates concerning nature vs. nurture debate and how this Enlightenment concern has shaped contemporary ideas about the human perfectibility.
In addition to her scholarly work, Davidson is also an acclaimed novelist and the The Explosionist is like few other recent YA titles. The Explosionist is the story of a 15-year-old girl growing up in an alternate version of 1930s Edinburgh, one where the legacy of Napoleon’s victory a century earlier at Waterloo is a standoff between a totalitarian Federation of European States and a group of independent northern countries called the New Hanseatic League.
Here are just a few of the subjects Davidson discusses on the show: sociological interest in dynamics of schools and boarding houses, Scottish dialect, peculiarities of diction, willful delving into uncomfortable territory, standing by sentences, emotional ethical questions about truthfulness, relationship between style and ethics, when writing is “too showy”, Thomas Paine, self-pity as antithesis to good writing, blindness to self-justifying elements of prose, Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie novels, Ernest Hemingway’s style, David Foster Wallace, David Copperfield, and the purity of the unwritten sentence.
Finally, don’t miss out on Davidson’s own blog Light Reading.