Study Guide

The Interestings Art and Culture

By Meg Wolitzer

Art and Culture

Julie had never actually heard of Günter Grass, but she wasn't going to let on. If anyone asked, she would insist that she too loved Günter Grass, although, she would add as protection, "I haven't read as much of him as I would like." (1.33)

Arguably, Jules's ability to be a faker is something she elevates to an art form.

He was big, black-haired, male, artless, at least in the sense that he had no art, no personal need for refined aesthetics. (3.18)

Okay, so Dennis is the only one in the book that has this kind of description. Why? What's so significant about having a single down-to-earth person in the middle of all these artsy types?

Dennis would say […] "Let's go with them to see that David Hackney show." She'd have to quietly say, "Hockney." (4.154)

Here, it seems like art is conflated with intelligence, and intelligence with value—at least for Jules. She seems pretty embarrassed by Dennis's lack of knowledge about the art world.

His music had been taken from him, siphoned off by Barry Claimes's greed. (6.72)

Can art and culture really be taken away from someone, or are they an internal thing? Ultimately, Ethan refuses to believe this is true for Jonah.

They sat up in their beds to the opening strains of Haydn's Surprise Symphony, which the Wunderlichs still […] blasted across all of Sprit-in-the-Woods. (8.180)

Nothing says we like this art like blasting it through the woods. And since it sounds like the Wunderlichs have been blasting the same piece for eons, this must be a real favorite of theirs.

Folk was over as a scene, and that was tremendously sad for all the people who'd been there […] when an acoustic guitar and a single voice had seemed capable of hastening the end of a war. (9.11)

Food for thought question: Do you think art really has the power to impact politics and society? Why or why not? Think of real world example to support your claim.

Characters actually stuck out a foot and tripped one another in a running gag that tested well with audiences between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five. (10.11)

We're not picking sides, but it seems like there are two approaches to making art (in general): for your own artistic satisfaction, and for audience approval.

It should be illegal for Gil Wolf to possess charcoal sticks. But if the point was something else, expression or release […] then yes, he should draw and draw. (10.119)

Again we see the debate about why making art matters. It can be something done for others, but also just for one's self.

Maybe beneath her massive desk she sometimes arranged her feet in first or second position. (10.181)

Check this out. Very few people end up making art their life's work, but the people that give it up for whatever reason maybe don't ever lose that need to be creating something.

She was making a decision to go where the audience was. (12.165)

How much of art-making depends on the audience? Should an artist wait for the audience to come to them, or is it equally legit to seek an audience out? Over to you, Shmoopers.

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