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View Diary: Anti-Intellectualism Is Destroying Democracy In America (20 comments)

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  •  "classics" : prose vs. subject matter (0+ / 0-)

    The first thing that comes to mind is that whether a book is a great work of literature - superlative prose, characterization, narrative, etc. - doesn't necessarily mean it has a whole lot to say.  The "classics" can suffer as much from irrelevancy as from unapproachability - these are the stories of other, long-dead, mostly aristocratic cultures that have been preserved much like objects in a museum, that have acquired meaning that is perhaps far beyond what they originally had simply by virtue of being really, really old.  Take away the formal, archaic, and poetic language (including the mountains of description necessary for a pre-television audience) and you can end up with material that's about as deep as amateur fanfic: a mixture of bone-dry fan wank, cheesy melodrama, and romance novel-esque gushing about how hunky Achilles and Beowulf are.

    It's not just a problem with the Western canon; try wading through Tale of Genji sometime.  It's unreadable - a soap opera about how hard a hot rich guy's life is - and that's after they cut out the pages and pages of description of everyone's fancy court outfits.

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