Archive | April 2, 2009

Kulcherel Littorasy

I’ve read almost everything on this cultural literacy test, but it only goes through the 19th century. I have a feeling my score will slip severely once the second half of the test comes out.

ShakespeareOf the works on this list, how many were actually assigned to me in either high school or college? By my count, six. Or seven, if being assigned Henry V counts as being assigned “Shakespeare’s Plays.”

I have to gripe about some of the “signing statements” attached to the list – such as “Ignore any critic who downplays the Bard’s Christian vision or who tries to make him into a feminist or commentator on colonialism.” Any reading of Shakespeare that misses his deep skepticism concerning traditional theology, authority, imperialism, gender roles, and the like is simply missing Shakespeare. (It’s always worth remembering how deeply Shakespeare was influenced by Montaigne; the plays are filled with references to the Essais.)

Moreover, the claim that Elizabeth Bennet “must jettison Romantic sensibilities to find real love” is a very odd thing to say about Pride and Prejudice (it would be more accurate if said of Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility, though even there not perfectly so), given that the man Elizabeth ends up with is a quintessential arrogant brooding proto-Randian romantic hero.

I also have to gripe about some omissions from the list. In particular: No Herodotus or Thucydides?

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