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Jonathan Franzen (via *The Guardian*):
[Karl] Kraus was known, in his day, to his many enemies, as the Great Hater. By most accounts, he was a tender and generous man in his private life, with many loyal friends. But once he starts winding the stem of his polemical rhetoric, it carries him into extremely harsh registers.
The individualised "blockheads" that Karl Kraus has in mind here aren't hoi polloi. Although Kraus could sound like an elitist, he wasn't in the business of denigrating the ma**es or lowbrow culture; the calculated difficulty of his writing wasn't a barricade against the barbarians. It was aimed, instead, at bright and well-educated cultural authorities who embraced a phony kind of individuality – people Kraus believed ought to have known better.
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It's not clear that Kraus's shrill, ex cathedra denunciations were the most effective way to change hearts and minds. But I confess to feeling some version of his disappointment when a novelist who I believe ought to have known better, Salman Rushdie, succumbs to Twitter. Salman Rushdie (via Twitter):
Dear #Franzen: @MargaretAtwood, @JoyceCarolOates, @nycnovel, @NathanEnglander, @Shteyngart and I are fine with Twitter. Enjoy your ivory tower.
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