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5 Satires Your Professors Won't Assign You

5 Satires Your Professors Won’t Assign You

By John Zmirak

 

One of the most potent ways a teacher can influence his students is by the books he decides to assign—and those he doesn’t. Here are five literary classics you’ve probably heard of but haven’t been told to read by your teachers. There’s a good reason for that: each is a stinging satire of contemporary society that skewers liberal pieties (among other things).

Love in the Ruins

by Walker Percy

This comic novel by the award-winning Louisiana writer depicts “bad Catholic” psychiatrist and philanderer Dr. Tom More trying to save his neck and his soul as civilization shatters into tiny, sharp-edged pieces. Ex-priests turned sex therapists experiment on human souls, while gun-toting fundamentalists shoot it out with black separatist guerrillas in the bayous—and Tom More tries to heal the breach in man’s psyche by tinkering with his brain. This raucous, bawdy, hilarious novel (published in 1971) proved eerily prophetic of the present.

Brave New World

by Aldous Huxley

In the 1930s (when most people still associated birth control with prostitutes), Huxley foresaw what would happen when modern technology merged with utilitarianism, consumerism, and social engineering: a society that has given up on virtue, culture, and love. Organized on moment-to-moment hedonism, the “brave new world” is designed to minimize sadness, pain, and boredom at any cost. Art, literature, and politics are replaced by utterly mindless entertainment. Instead of the movies, people go to the “feelies,” and sex means less than a handshake. Into this world of in vitro fertilization and “orgy-porgies,” hero John the Savage stumbles like a prophet from the wilderness—carrying his battered copy of Shakespeare and all the forgotten values of the West.

The Camp of the Saints

by Jean Raspail

This French novel from 1973 predicted how socialist politics and self-hating liberalism would hollow out the soul of Western man and make him unwilling to defend his values, his institutions, and even his countries. Using the metaphor of a massive influx of angry, anti-Western immigrants headed for Europe, the author diagnoses the flabby masochism of our post-Christian society—and suggests what will muscle in and take its place.

A Confederacy of Dunces

by John Kennedy Toole

At the same time screamingly funny and terribly sad, this novel tells the tale of a modern Don Quixote, the obese and unemployable Ignatius J. Reilly, who yearns for the glories of the Middle Ages—and who wreaks havoc all around him in the effort to restore them. Set in the New Orleans of the early 1960s, this episodic story is a rollicking good read, and a warning against the wrong kind of conservatism: one steeped in nostalgia and resentment.

The Wanting Seed

by Anthony Burgess

By the author of A Clockwork Orange, this novel depicts a future where panic about overpopulation has made childbearing almost criminal, and the micromanagerial socialist government favors homosexuals and eunuchs. This grand satire shows how frustrated nature takes her revenge, in the form of resurgent, violent, religious rebellions that bring their own set of terrors. The book shows the historic seesaw between optimistic, clueless progressivism and the starkly realist reactions that build on the ruins of
failed Utopia.

 

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