How great writers fare on the readability tests

Jean Paul Sartre Atheistic existentialism, of which I am a representative, declares with greater consistency that if God does not exist there is at least one being whose existence comes before its essence, a being which exists before it can be defined by any conception of it. That being is man or, as Heidegger has it, the human reality. What do we mean by saying that existence precedes essence? We mean that man first of all exists, encounters himself, surges up in the world – and defines himself afterwards. If man as the existentialist sees him is not definable, it is because to begin with he is nothing. He will not be anything until later, and then he will be what he makes of himself. Thus, there is no human nature, because there is no God to have a conception of it. Man simply is. Not that he is simply what he conceives himself to be, but he is what he...
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Wendy Doniger and the Hindu revisited

A reviewer refers to the book ‘The Hindu’ as ‘one experimental hippy-trippy toke-toke giggle-giggle sprawl’. It should not hence ruffle feathers with readers browsing book shelves lined up with dozens of other works devoted to the glories of this religion. It would, if this turned out to be a closer to truth, non-sugar coated pill. I gave my young niece a copy of the Mahabharata when she visited us last year from UK. Written by a renowed author, it had an introduction by Ruskin Bond. Was I giving her a tome full of ancient wisdom, a compendium of folk tales, characters and myths that every Indian knows and ought to know? Or had I handed over, unwittingly and in utter naivete, a tale of no other than God preciding over mass genocide, and a chapter (Gita) that is “dishonest”? I do believe we are utter naives when it comes to our religion. We are happy to splash colours and burst crackers and observer the...
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Mr Peabody and Sherman – review

The wonderdog, Peabody, and the little nerd Sherman, armed with a time machine, participate in glorious history, but in a way that regales and educates. Peabody and Sherman combines in a lethal dose a time machine, a boy brought up by a dog, a hate-turned-into-love romance, and a wacky involvement in historical epochs that ends with a time-identity-clash paradox. If a boy can adopt a dog, a dog can adopt a boy, observes the judge, and so begins this comic tale, a retold version of a 60s animation TV show, that never ceases to amuse and entertain. Mr Peabody as a puppy shows little interest in futile games that humans play, like making him fetch. He wouldn’t fit a female’s … either, and so, left unadopted, absorbs himself into reading Plato, growing into a Nobel prize winner and a world leader. The story’s complex, but its take on historical events in which the three characters (Penny is the school crush), go on to participate...
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