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.

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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?


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 p.m.  

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