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Having now read Gaius and Titius and Orbilius

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  • WendellWag@aol.com
    As I mentioned two months ago, I decided to read The Control of Language: A Critical Approach to Reading and Writing by Alec King and Martin Ketley and The
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 6, 2010
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      As I mentioned two months ago, I decided to read The Control of Language: A Critical Approach to Reading and Writing by Alec King and Martin Ketley and The Reading and Writing of English by E. G. Biaggini.  The first book is the one referred to in C. S. Lewis's The Abolition of Man as The Green Book by Gaius and Titius and the second book, not given a name in The Abolition of Man, is the one supposedly written by Orbilius.  Has anyone ever done a paper at Mythcon or published an article in any Mythopoeic publication about them?  It's hard for me to tell just from Googling, but it appears to me that they are briefly mentioned in a couple of books about Lewis.  Has anyone read any lengthy analysis of these books in relation to Lewis?  These books, especially The Control of Language, are long out of print and rather hard to find these days, although you might be able to get them on used books websites.
       
      Interestingly, King, Ketley, and Biaggini are all Brits who, after being educated in the U.K., moved to Australia to take academic jobs.  I get the impression that Australia was sort of the farm team for British academics in the early to mid-twentieth century.  If you couldn't find a job teaching in the U.K., you took a job at an Australian university.  Both books are approximately the equivalent of textbooks for what's usually called "freshman comp" in the U.S.  They were probably meant to be used in the last year of high school.
       
      I had presumed that the only reason that Lewis even happened to read the books is that he was told that some secondary schools in the U.K. were considering using these Australian books as textbooks and people in charge of secondary school curricula in the U.K. would like Lewis's opinion of the two books.  (Well, they're Australian books in the sense that the authors were Australian, but they were published in the U.K., possibly because there were so few publishers in Australia at the time.)  But in fact Lewis is quoted in The Reading and Writing of English, so maybe he was given a copy of that book by his publisher because his publisher had to approve the use of Lewis's writings.  At the end of chapter 5 there are exercises where the reader is supposed to comment about various writing passages, a couple of which are from The Pilgrim's Regress.  As I shall note later, I don't know whether Biaggini likes these passages or not.  In both books, the quotations that Lewis makes from them in The Abolition of Man come fairly early in those books.  I wonder if Lewis bothered to read the entire books or just got disgusted and gave up on them.  The attitudes that Lewis was complaining about in The Abolition of Man where he used these two textbooks as examples aren't actually that clear in them.  It may be there in the background, but it isn't really made a big deal in either book.
       
      They aren't very good textbooks.  Biaggini does a lot of quoting of various passages from various sources and then asking the reader to explain which of them are well written and which aren't.  He tries to explain the difference between good and bad writing, but he doesn't express himself very well.  Often he just seems to be saying, "Well, you know what I mean.  It's obvious which passage is well written."  In the exercises at the ends of chapters, I sometimes don't know which of the passages Biaggini means to be well written and which not.
       
      King and Ketley start by making a distinction between the reference and the emotive meaning of words.  I don't think the philosophical foundations for their use of this distinction are very good.  They use this distinction a lot of the rest of the book.  Most of their discussion isn't very useful, although there is one good chapter.  The last chapter is about poetry, and it's obvious that King and Ketley are enthusiastic about it.  They actually make some good points there.
       
      Wendell Wagner
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