Sunday Lit Crit Sermon: Nephi Anderson on Purpose in Fiction

Nephi Anderson
Nephi Anderson

When I was a child I read and loved Robert Heinlein’s Podkayne of Mars, so when my son was old enough, I read it to him also. I had somehow acquired a nice edition of the book, one with an interpretive essay in the end. So, when I went to read the book to my son, I read the essay, and discovered that the book wasn’t at all what I remembered when I read it as a child.

What I had read as a child was simply entertainment. A great story of a girl who goes on an adventure with interplanetary repercussions. What the essay spoke of was Heinlein’s rejection of woman’s liberation.

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A Review of Reviewing

Betty Friedan, American feminist and writer.
Betty Friedan. Image via

In my MBA program at NYU, I got to take two unusual and enlightening classes that changed my outlook substantially. The first was on the issues faced by women and minorities in the business world, taught by famed author and activist Betty Friedan.

The second was a class studying management through reading literature, which taught me an important principle about judging success: you have to know the goals to judge success. Among other things, we read Shakespeare’s Julius Ceasar, looking in it for clues about each character’s intentions and judging from the text how successful they were. [Brutus doesn’t fare too well, from this perspective. While he manages to get rid of Ceasar, the result doesn’t give him the Rome he is after. Instead Ceasar becomes a martyr and Brutus becomes a pariah. The new Roman government fights Brutus’ forces and kills him.]

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