Re: [mythsoc] the Literary Canon and high school reading lists
- Thanks. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Jane.
The Realm of Concrete Reality, where the heart-tearing tragedy of such
"accidents" makes us question the rule of our own conceptions of the divine
order, is indeed a place with which we must grapple and come to terms with--
an ongoing struggle of despair and hope against it.
I make myself clear to you here, as I may, that I felt the sincerity of your
best wishes. And I sought to acknowledge them.
Please forgive my wearisome way of writing. It is authentic, if not so
familiar. Yet I perceive that you know me, as you measure the signs I give
of my self.
We all need someone to look up to. It is the members of this list, for me,
all too often.
Thanks for your thoughts. Thanks for your care. They are valued here.
Yet I am not alone. We all share in this community of discourse and
Perhaps Mr. Bratman is the most exasperated of us all, but it is to him that
I look for the final word on much of what is discussed in this forum. To
tell the truth, I should say as much of the others.
As lights in a darkness surrounding, everyone who has contributed to this
list over the past couple of years has touched my mind with a sudden
nearness and familiarity.
Perhaps I am wallowing in emotionalism, but it is Christmas Eve. And I've
been blessed by this community.
Let me give my humble thanks to all.
On 12/24/06, jane Bigelow <jbigelow@...> wrote:
> I meant the congratulations sincerely, and mean them all the more for
> knowing a little about the obstacles you faced. However, there is
> always some luck involved in life. It starts with small things like
> getting across a street safely--a young family here in Denver didn't,
> just recently. They were crossing quite properly with the light, at
> a marked intersection.
> Wishing you more stars,
> Let me shoot a thanks to Jane for her congratulations to me for having wit
> >and luck in High School. I will admit that between episodes of alcoholic
> >stupor, the tragedy of unrequited love, and the healing experience of
> >reading Tolkien's works, I did open my mind to the quiet suggestions of a
> >couple of attentive teachers during my "lost" adolescence. Perhaps it is
> >their efforts that I can look when next adding a couple more lucky stars
> >my gratitude list.
> >Thanks, Walter.
> >On 12/24/06, David Lenander <<mailto:d-lena% <d-lena%25>40umn.edu>
> d-lena@... <d-lena%40umn.edu>> wrote:
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > And what a stupid list, at that. Why only two novels by Dickens, and
> > > one by Austen (supposedly the two greatest novelists in English) but
> > > (??all!!!?) the novels of William Faulkner?? Now, actually, that's
> > > closer to my own experience in high school, I'd definitely read
> > > _Absalom, Absalom_ and a number of other Faulkner novels, but no
> > > Dickens and only two or three Austen novels (none of these for school,
> > > by the way). Most of the kids who, like my daughter, have read _Great
> > > Expectations_ seem to have hated it. Only by comparison did she like
> > > _A Tale of Two Cities_, by the way. (and I think _Great Expectations_
> > > a surpassingly great book, but I didn't read it until my late
> > > twenties). If this is really true of a lot of high school kids, I
> > > don't think they should read _Great Expectations_. I still love
> > > Faulkner, and Austen, and I still haven't read enough Dickens to
> > > say if I like his work overall, but the rest of this list is similarly
> > > problematic. "The poems of Robert Frost" all of them? I have read
> > > most of them, but really.... Why so much Frost and no Eliot, Yeats or
> > > Pound? Or Auden? What about the great 19th C. poets, both Romantic and
> > > Victorian? How about short fiction (on the whole, I'd pick a selection
> > > of Hawthorne stories over _The Scarlet Letter_, which however is a
> > > beautiful book--then again I prefer all of his other novels). How
> > > about Poe? And the disparity between the "works of Shakespeare" and
> > > the Declaration of Independence just underlines the absurdity of this.
> > > At least they're getting some 16th C. sonnets, I guess, along with
> > > dubious inclusions as "Troilus and Cressida" and "All's Well that Ends
> > > Well." Are high school students really ready for (all??) of the
> > > Canterbury Tales (in Middle English?), or even _Paradise Lost_? (But
> > > please don't make them read just the first three books, as occurred in
> > > my College Freshman English class). How about _Samson Agonistes_ or
> > > "Lycidas" or "L'Allegro," and then fit in some Donne and maybe some
> > > Cavalier poetry. Why not ask them to read Beowulf and James Joyce's
> > > _Finnegan's Wake_ while we're at it, and how about the _Confessio
> > > Amantis_ (which had an enormous impact on me, I could see why CSL
> > > it so well--of course I was in a college Middle English Poets class),
> > > and _The Pearl_ and _Piers Plowman_. No Hemmingway, but _Catcher in
> > > the Rye_? _1984_? _Animal Farm_ is a lot better, and easier to read,
> > > too. But as a stylist and writer and even thinker, Orwell and Salinger
> > > don't belong on a list with Shakespeare, Milton and Chaucer, or even
> > > with Melville, Hawthorne and Twain. Why Tolstoy, but not Borges or
> > > Grass or Cervantes or Goethe, Moliere or Chekhov or .... Well, if
> > > they've read all of these, what will they read in college?
> > >
> > > But many of these dubious inclusions on a list of 30 great classics of
> > > Western Civilization do belong on a list of recommended reading for
> > > high school kids, along with _To Kill A Mockingbird_, books by Toni
> > > Morrison and Louise Erdrich, Ursula K. Le Guin, Jane Yolen, Terry
> > > Pratchett (not a lot of humor on that list, was there?), and maybe
> > > Lord of the Rings_. Some of the great classics, like _The Prince_ or
> > > any number of Shakespeare's plays, or some of the Canterbury Tales
> > > (adapted into contemporary English, perhaps), or other great classics
> > > like some of Andersen's fairy tales, _Tom Jones_, _Barchester Towers_,
> > > _A Passage to India_, _Frankenstein_ or _Alice In Wonderland_, and
> > > and lots of short stories, by writers like Faulkner, Hemmingway, Grace
> > > Paley, Gene Wolfe, James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, Edith Wharton, Katherine
> > > Mansfield, and many others. Personally, I think that a number of
> > > Faulkner short stories would work terrifically in high school English
> > > classes, and it's fine for individual students to read Faulkner if
> > > want to, but how would you teach the great works, _The Sound and the
> > > Fury_ or _Absalom, Absalom!_ in a high school English class and get
> > > through the trimester? Likewise, _Middlemarch_ is one of the great
> > > novels in English, but I really don't think it's practical to put it
> > > a high school syllabus. _Wuthering Heights_ can work, though, or
> > > and Prejudice _ (especially with wonderful movies and television
> > > adaptations that students have seen and loved). But this kind of list
> > > I'm suggesting is exactly what they seem to be teaching in high school
> > > in my (limited) experience. Well, o.k., I haven't seen Terry Pratchett
> > > on any lists, or Gene Wolfe, for that matter, but they should be.
> > > Incidentally, if they want to include some literary or cultural
> > > critique, some of Harold Bloom would be a great inclusion, but avoid
> > > Bennett and Will. I asked my high school daughter what she's liked
> > > best among the books she's had to read for school: her picks: The
> > > Odyssey and Gilgamesh, but she loved _To Kill a Mockingbird_ best.
> > > Hated _Tom Sawyer_ and _Great Expectations_. She was also able to pick
> > > _Briar Rose_ by Jane Yolen from a list for a paper topic, and she
> > > that.
> > >
> > > On Dec 23, 2006, at 7:32 AM,
> > <mailto:mythsoc% <mythsoc%25>40yahoogroups.com>email@example.com<mythsoc%40yahoogroups.com>
> > >
> > > > The second is a typical lament about how the younger generation is
> > > > Letting The Side Down, this time by not having read all thirty of
> > > > what Wm Bennett, George Will, and Harold Bloom consider essential
> > > > books before they graduate high school. Leaving aside the fact that
> > > > wouldn't trust Bennett or Will to pick my brand of toothpaste, much
> > > > less arbitrate culture, since I didn't read a number of these until
> > > > college, and still haven't read some, it doesn't sound like the last
> > > > trump of doom to me.
> > > >
> > > > <>----------------------------------------------------------
> > > >
> > > > Time takes its toll on the classics -- among students
> > > > COLONIE, N.Y. -- The literary canon may not be dead across
> > > > America's college campuses, but its heartbeat has grown weak and
> > > > erratic.
> > >
> > > David Lenander
> > > <mailto:d-lena% <d-lena%25>40umn.edu>d-lena@... <d-lena%40umn.edu><d-lena%40umn.edu>
> > > 2095 Hamline Ave. N.
> > > Roseville, MN 55113
> > > 651-292-8887
> > >
> > <http://www.umn.edu/~d-lena/RIVENDELL.html>
> > >
> > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
> > >
> > >
> > >
> >[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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