Something Lost
By Pat Duffy Hutcheon
358 pp

A review by Madeline Weld, Ph.D.
Madeline Weld, Ph.D., has a specialization in physiology and works as a toxicological evaluator at Health Canada.

If asked to name some destructive ideologies, most of us would probably come up with National Socialism, fascism, and communism. But how many of us would put on our list the rather benign-sounding ideology called "postmodernism," which denies an both an external, knowable reality and an intrinsic human nature? Pat Duffy Hutcheon's novel, Something Lost, portrays a university setting in which postmodernism and its Siamese twins, Marxism and feminism (which, in its current incarnation, is heavily Marxist), have gained a stranglehold. The first casualty of doctrinaire adherence to ideology is truth. And when we are willing to sacrifice truth, bad things happen to real people.

The protagonist of Hutcheon's novel has embraced this amalgam of ideologies as an integral part of the battle against the sort of injustice she faced in her struggle to become a professor. As a professor of women's studies, she made a career advancing it. Inklings of doubt arise as she attempts to justify her inaction when the ideologies she has embraced are used to inflict injustice on others. As the novel unfolds, the catastrophic results that the betrayal of truth has had for people dear to her becomes evident.

Will she have the integrity to confront the role she played, however unintentional, in the events that happened?

Postmodernism has become so pervasive in our society that many may not even be aware of it as an ideology. But ideologies, acknowledged as such or not, have consequences, as becomes evident in Hutcheon's novel. With this novel, she seeks to wake us up to the scientific, societal, and human consequences of postmodernism as she illustrates what a "mendacious construct" it really is.