Nietzsche’s horse walks into a salon

Before becoming the Prime Minister’s favourite novelist, Richard Flanagan inspired a rather different reaction from Quadrant contributor David Free, taken aback by writer’s innovative appraisals of Jesus (“the world’s first suicide bomber”) and Nietzsche’s equine empathy.

“Maybe you’re not even supposed to make sense of it all,” Free wondered in our June, 2009, edition. “Maybe you’re just meant to feel the tone: highbrow, literary, mystical, profound. Maybe you’re just meant to feel generally assured that this will be the kind of novel in which current events will meet with deep thought. Maybe all you need to know is that the right thing is being said—that the figure of the suicide bomber is being understood, contextualised, rescued from the demonisation he’s suffered at the hands of the George Bushes of the world, who dig on Jesus but probably haven’t even heard of Nietzsche. Maybe you’re just meant to get a whiff of that heady atmosphere and move on.”

To celebrate Flanagan’s triumph in the PM’s Literary Awards, Fine’s essay has been removed from the paywall and can be read without charge by following the link below.

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