The Corner

Tom Wolfe and the Charming Aristocracy

In today’s segment of the Uncommon Knowledge interview, I raise the criticism that Norman Mailer, John Updike, and John Irving leveled at Tom Wolfe, particularly after the publication of his second work of fiction, A Man in Full–namely, that Wolfe is fundamentally a journalist, not a novelist.  Wolfe proves entirely capable of defending himself.

This was to me a sign of the charming aristocracy at work….Of course, the charming aristocracy is an aristocracy of taste. In order to prove that you are an aristocrat of taste, you have to like things that the great mass of humanity can’t understand. Hence, something like journalism, which is written precisely so that the great masses of humanity can understand it, would be looked down upon by the charming aristocracy. In fact, in American literature, an essentially journalistic approach has been behind every success.

To see Tom Wolfe propound his belief that American fiction should prove just as vivid and boisterous as American life, click here


The Latest