The Literary Salon

A free salon wherein patrons and passers-by may view or contribute ideas on literary and generally intellectual matters. The blog will strive to maintain its commitment to wit, humour and perspicuous analysis.

My Photo
Name:
Location: Toronto, now Ottawa, Ont, Canada

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Brief thoughts on the Canon

This will (I assume) interest only those in the field of belles lettres or literature: The Canon, which has been under attack in recent years from all sides. Briefly, for those who are in other fields, I will define the Canon as that body of literature which is, and has been, considered as the very best ever produced. Thus: Shakespeare, Dante, Milton, etc, etc.
I believe Roger Kuin has a similar response to those who insist that it is nothing but a conspiracy perpetrated by upper class white guys protecting dead white guys. I certainly agree that it is not something that was determined overnight at some secret board meeting. I think it can be likened to the notion of laissez-faire, that is, the Canon has natural forces acting upon it, as it were.
Of course, Canonization isn't perfect, and I believe I have an argument that should seriously weaken the claims of those naysayers. The latter claim that non-Anglo writers of colour (or of the feminine sex) have been victimized, and hence consigned to oblivion, by this conspiracy. However, there is one thing they forget: more dead white males have have "suffered" at the hands of canonization than any other group. In my own area of Restoration-18th century poetry: who now remembers William Cowley, Edmund Waller, William Cowper, Thomas Gray, James Thomson, and half the poets Samuel Johnson wrote about in his Lives?

1 Comments:

Anonymous RK said...

You may be happy to hear that most of the students in my 2110 Intro to Poetry course this last year loved Gray's Elegy. DWEMS rule!

11:09 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home