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What The Dickens?

I have long bemoaned the rarity of the serial novel. Sure the Times Magazine has been trying its hand at the form for a while, but with very anemic product--and results. What I love about the serial form is the same thing I loved about the cliffhanger movies when I was a kid: the salacious suspense of story.

Okay, a piece of would-be political philosophy/analysis probably does not immediately call to mind A Tale of Two Cities, but remember Dickens had a message about the French Revolution, and it wasn't revolutionary. As readers here have heard, I have been incubating a long piece that tries to set down some big principles for a revived liberalism after its long, Babylonian exile. Principles that would compete with the big, endlessly reiterated principles the conservatives have deployed to such effect ("It's your money.") What does it mean to be a person? What aspects of personhood are crucial for a good society? I am now dribbling it out over at Talking Points Memo. Part II next Wednesday and Part III on the 17th.

The format was simply because it was too long for an online piece, but it turns out that one of the unexpected benefits of the format is the "what now?" response, both private and online. Retired academics like me miss the give and take of the workshop life, and this is an--to me at least--unexpected opportunity to recreate a little of it.

So Open U'ers, click on over and give me some grief. And maybe we should think about serializing some ideas here.

--Linda Hirshman