Monday, April 03, 2017

"Rich Man, Poor Man": Is Irwin Shaw's 1969 novel a template for today's debate on inequality?


I do remember reading the paperback of Irwin Shaw’s “Rich Man, Poor Man”, 1969, Delacorte, while in the Army.  The novel was a large -sized family drama moving around the world, about an upstate New York Family, the Jordache’s, whose two sons Rudolph and Thomas, who turn out so differently. While on one level the novel concerns the “rich and poor”, it also emphasizes that the social and personal connections of wealth and poverty tend to be self-reinforcing. The novel is considered remarkable in literary circles because of the way if manipulates the “omniscient observer” concept of third person narration.



The  novel became a TV miniseries in 1976 on ABC with Peter Strauss and Nick Nolte playing the two brothers.



An article by Michelle Singletary in the Washington Post Sunday, April 2, alluded to the novel as she wrote about people who have it all losing it, partly through trying to coast too soon into retirement.  The article is titled “From privilege to poverty” about Pulitzer Prize author William McPherson, author of “Falling” (2014), who died last week at 84. The online title of the article is more brazen, “The next face of poverty could be yours”.

I’d also look at Robert Samuelson’s column this morning, “Is the American dream killing us?

1 comment:

Bill Boushka said...

I saw a mention of this novel in a comment to a post by Ramsay Taplin, Blogtyrant, on staging free and paid content. Look for the comment by Visthal http://www.blogtyrant.com/what-will-you-sell-if-you-give-away-your-best-blog-content-for-free/#comment-89505 where the commenter discusses whether if you're good at something you should give it away for free.