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Author Topic: Once upon a time, when we were smarter...
Babbler # 2474

posted 10 January 2005 02:34 PM      Profile for bittersweet     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I just read an essay arguing, yet again, tediously, that The Merchant of Venice shouldn't be staged (surely in this day-and-age) because of Shylock.

But then I found a tonic to that condescending, politically correct attitude, in this article about the liberating value of literature. Here's the link. The author is Jonathan Rose.

Workers of the

On company time, and a half-mile below the surface, Nottinghamshire collier G. A. W. Tomlinson (b. 1872) read The Canterbury Tales, Lamb's Essays, The Origin of Species, and Oscar Wilde's The Ballad of Reading Gaol. Admittedly, that could be an occupational hazard: once, when he should have been minding a set of rail switches, he was so absorbed in Goldsmith's The Deserted Village that he allowed tubs full of coal to crash into empties. The foreman (quite rightly) clouted him and snatched the volume away. He returned it at the end of the shift and offered a few poetry books of his own—"BUT IF THA BRINGS 'EM DARN T'PIT I'LL KNOCK THI BLOCK OFF." Tomlinson tried to write his own verses and concealed them from his workmates, until one of them picked up a page he had dropped and read it: "No good, lad. Tha wants ter read Shelley's stuff. That's poetry."


Literary studies, I suggest, could be revitalized, and could once again engage the general public, by turning its attention to the ordinary reader in history.

[ 10 January 2005: Message edited by: bittersweet ]

From: land of the midnight lotus | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 7841

posted 14 January 2005 04:49 AM      Profile for catje     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
That is an inspiring bit of research.

I think we could also do more to acknowledge the eloquence of the stereotypical working class poetry of today. I'm not the best one to defend it, but there really is some brilliant hip hop out there.

From: lotusland | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 4795

posted 14 January 2005 07:10 AM      Profile for Hephaestion   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
On Classic Literature (1952)

Someone who reads only newspapers and at best books of contemporary authors looks to me like an extremely near-sighted person who scorns eyeglasses. He is completely dependent on the prejudices and fashions of his times, since he never gets to see or hear anything else. And what a person thinks on his own without being stimulated by the thoughts and experiences of other people is, even in the best case, rather paltry and monotonous.

There are only a few enlightened people with a lucid mind and style and with good taste within a century. What has been preserved of their work belongs among the most precious possessions of mankind. We owe it to a few writers of antiquity that the people in the Middle Ages could slowly extricate themselves from the superstitions and ignorance that had darkened life for more than a millennium.

Nothing more is needed to overcome the modernist’s snobbishness.

— Albert Einstein

"Ideas and Opinions", Crown Trade Paperbacks, New York, 1982 pp. 64-65

From: goodbye... :-( | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged

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