Tags » Literary Canon
Note: this essay was drafted some time ago, and I am to some degree dissatisfied with it. For one thing, there are some rather ugly uses of the… 2,037 more words
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Oddly enough, people have always distrusted the classics, but it is now publicly acceptable to take pride in such distrust. We all dislike intimidation, so we worry about being overwhelmed by these tomes above which halos hover as over the graves of the recently sainted, because we wrongly believe they are fields full of esoteric knowledge worse than nettles, of specialized jargon, seductive rhetoric, and swarms of stinging data, and that the purpose of all this unpleasantness is to show us up, put us in our place, make fun of our lack of understanding; but the good books are notable for their paucity of information—a classic is as careful about what it picks up as about what it puts down; it introduces new concepts because fresh ideas are needed; and only if the most ordinary things are exotic is it guilty of a preoccupation with the out-of-the-way, since the ordinary, the everyday, is their most concentrated concern: What could be more familiar than a child rolling for fun down a grassy slope—that is, when seen by Galileo, a body descending an inclined plane?
Forgive me, Dante, for I am a sinner. I confess. Do not judge me too harshly, oh Joyce, Tolstoy, Waugh, Saramago, and other greats that collect my dust instead of my readership. 578 more words