Oh, but that is what I'm doing. You're just being civilized by suggesting I'm not. I am criticizing P&P because it is not my cup of tea. My personal preference is what shapes my value judgement. I am not everyones cup of tea, and hence I am often criticized, as is the art/photography I produce on occasion, and which some poor misguided fools have actually paid me for. I'm fine with being criticized, and I am fine criticizing.
If your criticism is reducible to personal taste, then you have no criticism to make. Personal preference is important when we chose what art we, personally, absorb, but personal preference is essentially irrelevant when the discussion involves more people than one's self: personal preference is a minor anecdote.
Of course personal preference will always color a value judgment - while any one can tell that Led Zeppelin was a great band, I am likely to go a bit overboard in praise due to my personal preference. However, it is also possible for human beings to step back and discuss art as it relates to the community, whether that community is an online forum or the entire human race.
When we talk about classics and masterpieces, we have transcended our personal preference and crossed into the global discussion: we are not merely talking about what we like, personally, but instead, we are talking about what can be readily recognized as good art no matter where we take it. Crime and Punishment
is brilliant in Russia, and in modern America. Basho was brilliant in Edo era Japan, and is brilliant in the modern, global world. These statements remain true even if it might be that I dislike C&P or Basho's haikus on a personal level - I am still capable of seeing the value of the work.
Similarly, we humans can step back and recognize art that, while we enjoy it, is simply not brilliant, or classic, or great except in so far as we happen to like it. I may have enjoyed Cussler's Sahara
, but I know quite well that it is a trite action-adventure novel that barely passes as a decent page-turner. Because that's just it: writing a novel that people will enjoy is much easier than writing a novel that will be enjoyed and that will also inform the reader about human experience.
Yes. The Shakespearean Literature professor I had was evil incarnate. She imparted wisdom with a 12 pound sledge, and the attitude of "you will enjoy Shakespeare with the same mad passion as I, or I will cast aspersions upon your character and screw up your GPA with a big fat D." Which some of us deserved, come to think of it.
Okay, but a teacher who is not talented at teaching is quite a different matter; although, it is all too often that people are turned off from a subject due to poor instruction.
But I am not sure how one poor teacher leads to the conclusion that teachers are sadistic in the way described. I mean, honestly, which makes more sense: 1) teachers are generally sadistic, in that they structure their classes in such a way as to inflict the most amount of pain and stress as possible upon their students, or, 2) teachers are generally interested in giving their students the best education possible, and this typically involves them running a demanding course after which students should be able to intelligently discuss the works covered?
Comparing Cussler to Dante is like comparing apples to cinderblocks.
Ah, but both are literature. You obviously know the one to be better than the other, and I doubt you make this distinction by drawing names from a hat.
That's not what I asked. I asked how reading the classics helps you to contribute to civilization.
Because literature is such a pillar of civilization, studying literature is a contribution to civilization. Further, the study of great literature helps the student cultivate the civilized mind.
I must agree with him that, they, indeed, kinda are. Here in Brazil most of what is considered "classic" is largely outdate, ideologically speaking, yet anything with less than 50 years is totally ignored then what the students will have to read to avaliate their interpretation skills is chosen, what I find really anoying. Its not that the classics arent good, its just that they arent better than modern literature, and thus shouldnt be put atop large pillars and workshipped...
We have to be careful here. We have to ask ourselves, 'why do I prefer modern works to older classics?' You are not alone; I typically enjoy modern works more than I enjoy older works - I prefer Thompson to Austen any day.
I think that this is mostly the result of being a product of our times. We enjoy the more recent works because they were crafted with us in mind: we are the immediate audience. Don Quixote
was not written for us, but for people living in Spain in Cervantes' time. Yet, it remains widely read because it was well written.
An important aspect of our studying, when we read a classic, should be getting an understanding of why the work was so beloved. What about the work resonated with it's immediate audience. We need to try and place the work, culturally. Reading a classic work is not unlike reading history. Someone once said that great literature is great social history, and I think there is a great deal of truth there.