Fandom and the Great Books

The canon wars are over, and the canon lost. But the canon’s defeat might not be a bad thing for readers and teachers who care about great books, because it allows us to offer franker, more interesting, and more compelling reasons to read them.
Marilynne Robinson’s “Jack” dives deep into the protagonist’s mind in order, paradoxically, to show how our lives mean things that are only apparent to other people. She depicts Jack’s redemption as something that occurs partly outside his conscious awareness. By giving us Jack’s consciousness illuminated but not wholly transformed by his wife Della’s love, Robinson achieves an artistic analogue to forgiveness.