Monday, February 1, 2016

A Few Thoughts on "The Western Canon".

Yesterday, after I had finished reading Looking Backward: 2000–1887  by Edward Bellamy, I published a post giving my opinion of the novel. I was not impressed with the novel, to say the least.

I want to explain how I came to read the book.

In an earlier post, I explained how I alternated between using my son's Kindle and the FBReader app on my Android when I wanted to read an e book. I'll use the Kindle only when my battery is low on the Android. Opening up the Kindle recently, I discovered an e book which I had forgotten downloading from Project Gutenberg - Mary Noailles Murfree's, "His Unquiet Ghost". In addition to coming upon that particular e book, I found News from Nowhere by William Morris. Doing a little research on Morris' novel, I learned that it was written in response to Bellamy's novel.

So, I began reading Looking Backward: 2000–1887 on the Android and switching to News from Nowhere on the Kindle whenever the phone needed charging.

I've not reached the half way mark on News from Nowhere and I can see it's going to be a grind finishing it. As much as I was unimpressed with Bellamy's novel, I have to say that it's far and away superior to Morris' book. I'm only going to finish reading this boring piece of drivel because I've told myself that I'd finish reading whatever I've started, as a New Year's resolution.

It's bad enough that News from Nowhere is so dreadful, but for reasons that escape me, the book is listed in Harold Bloom's The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages.

Maybe I should not have been surprised to find Morris' book on the list. Of course, I haven't come even close to reading everything listed in the Canon, but I've read several of the books listed, and some of the books in Bloom's Canon do not deserve to be there.

Confessions of an English Opium Eater by Thomas de Quincey was entertaining, but it's hardly one of the great works of Western civilization. The same could be said of Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle. Does anything by Vonnegut really belong in the Western Canon?

There are several books on Bloom's list which I want to read.....overall it's not a bad list. But, I'll not be just picking something at random from the Western Canon.

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