The New Yorker staff writer Larissa MacFarquhar discusses the history and morality of do-gooding during her Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle Roundtable presentation on her book, Strangers Drowning: Grappling with Impossible Idealism, Drastic Choices, and the Overpowering Urge to Help on Thursday in the Hall of Philosophy. “Some people feel, I’ve discovered, that extremely virtuous people — they think they’re nice, a little boring, a little dull,” MacFarquhar said. “And there’s this cliché — that drives me crazy, it’s so untrue — that evil people are fascinating and complex, whereas good people are simple and boring.” MacFarquhar said she discussed this with a novelist she knows and asked why novelists don’t seem as interested in writing about morally “good” characters. “He gave me this look of total contempt, like I’d asked him to write a nice book with bunnies and butterflies,” MacFarquhar said. “That’s what I have to combat.”
Photo by Carolyn Brown.
ChautauquaLarissa MacFarquharaltruismCLSCCLSC Author Presentation