A few days ago I visited my old neighborhood of Hyde Park, on the south side of Chicago. While walking I happened to recognize an acquaintance who asked if I’d be going to see Fredric Jameson talk in mere minutes. Shocked that I hadn’t known about this earlier, I decided that I really had no choice but to go see one of the greatest thinkers alive today.
Jameson, among others, had been invited to the University of Chicago for the multi-day conference “Forms of Fiction: The Novel in English.” The main focus of the conference was an examination of four novels: Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, George Eliot’s Middlemarch, Henry James’s The Golden Bowl, and James Joyce’s Ulysses. Having not read all of them, I was a bit concerned that I wouldn’t be able to follow all of Jameson’s talk, which turned out to be on Ulysses among other ideas, but my worry was assuaged by his handling of the material. Jameson unknowingly had made a case for me to read Ulysses along with giving me a bit more faith in the novel as a worthwhile form of reflection of the world.