Saturday, March 22, 2008

A couple of bits of pedantry

  1. "Frankenstein" is a reference to the Creator, Victor Frankenstein, not to the poor Creature, who - significantly - is unnamed. The Creature is the only really sympathetic character in the book, as Satan is the only really sympathetic character in Paradise Lost. This comparison become explicit is as the Creature[1] identifies with Satan after reading Milton's epic poem.
  2. "Fundamentalism" is term properly used to describe the sect of Protestants who, under Lyman and Milton Stewart, published the widely unread 12 volume work "The Fundamentals" during the second decade of the 20th century. The major concern of the Fundamentalists (note capitalization) was to preserve biblical inerrancy from the assaults of the higher criticism of the great 19th century German theologians. To call me a Fundamentalist is both Silly and Erroneous, but not prima facie Absurd. To speak of "Catholic Fundamentalists" is equivalent to speaking of a "square circle" and is prima facie Absurd.
Is this important, or am I on a pedantry crusade [2]? I would argue it is not merely important, but essential in order to marginalize Fundamentalism. You can't marginalize something if you don't know what it is, and someone who knows what she's talking about won't take you seriously. You'll alienate potential supporters: I'm not sure you can afford to do that.

[1] who taught himself to read, if I remember correctly, from Milton's Paradise Lost, the complete works of Petrarch, and Goethe's "The Sorrows of Young Werther"(!), which he found in an abandoned chest. "Frankenstein" is a fine book, but it cannot be accused of an over-reliance on Naturalism.

[2] To be fair, I am always on a pedantry crusade. But it's important, too.

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