Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Leo Strauss and the Art of Writing?

Leo Strauss
From Jenny Strauss Clay
New York Times

In the New York Times Sunday Book Review is an interesting article by Steven B. Smith, "Hidden Truths: Two Books About the Legacy of Leo Strauss" (August 23, 2013), which makes the following point:
Like all serious teachers, Strauss developed followers, and like all disciples these have split over the meaning of their teacher's work. Was Strauss on the side of the ancients or the moderns? Was he a defender of biblical revelation or philosophical rationality? Was he, as he often said, a "friend of liberal democracy" or its most severe critic?
The point about followers commonly disagreeing over a teacher's intellectual legacy is true, though I'd wager that such antithetical disagreement is rather rarer.

Perhaps we should attribute these radically opposed disagreements to Strauss's putting into practice the insights of his most prominent text, Persecution and the Art of Writing, in which he argues that a serious writer writes not openly, but esoterically, layering a work with multiple meanings, hiding them under allusion, irony, contradiction, and paradox.

But would such a reading be a hermeneutic of suspicion . . . or of belief?

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At 9:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thank you for this article.
Through reading it, I have learned that I am an esoteric writer. I do all of those things, and add another.

As the great guitarist Chet Atkins would say, when he hit a rare wrong note, "All my mistakes are intentional."


At 11:02 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

That's why you never make any mistakes . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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