After sitting neglected in my library for two years, I just finished reading Edward Cline’s Sparrowhawk: Book II: Hugh Kenrick this afternoon. I regret every hour that I postponed reading Cline’s work, for he has crafted an utterly stupendous literary achievement—an achievement made all the sweeter to behold given our friendship and his frequent contributions to the Center’s advocacy.
I hold that after Ayn Rand, Edward Cline is perhaps the first true Objectivist artist—not in failed attempts or half-realized aspirations—but in actual concrete execution. And this is important to note, because despite all the philosophic power of Objectivism and Ayn Rand’s artistic example, I often have a hard time finding value in much of what attempts at Objectivist art today. This has been nagging me for years, for it is as if many of these artists seemingly have the right philosophy and motives, but simply lack the willingness and discipline to fully train themselves in their medium (be it paint, sculpture, or fiction). Their failures I cannot explain, other then to say that they seem to believe that philosophy alone can make up for a deficit in training, craftsmanship and skill.
Not so with Cline’s efforts in Sparrowhawk: Book II. Here Cline offers a stunning portrait of a young English aristocrat who transforms himself into a man of mind, integrity and action in the years preceding the American Revolution. As I read his book, I found myself pausing to note how exquisitely it was constructed. Action, such as a sword-fight between the hero and a villain impacts the reader with deliberate force. Dialog, such as a discussion of philosophy among great-minded friends, illuminates the fundamental truths of the characters’ (and our) existence. No character moves causelessly; hero or villain, the soul of each is given life and shapes the plot with alacrity and conviction. And as a historical novel set in a bygone era, it unabashedly integrates the language and ideas of the time to masterful effect. For years novelists and filmmakers have struggled and failed to capture the sprit of the American Revolution and the changes in men’s minds that preceded it. Not any more—not with this work by Edward Cline. It honors the rebels of the past, and provides fuel for those who would make our future.
And thus I simply cannot fathom why this achievement has not been heralded and proclaimed by Objectivists. I hope I can redress this failure by saying that you, reading these lines, must find and read this book, and discover with your own mind what I attempt to describe here. I think you will find yourself as inspired about it as me. Fortunately for me, the rest of Cline’s Sparrowhawk series is already in my possession, and I now look forward to a long holiday weekend enjoying each of them.