Friday, June 11, 2010

Catching up on reading

I've been catching up on Elaine Showalter's Teaching Literature (2003), a book I've been meaning to read for a while. Recently, as you might have noticed, I've found myself thinking more and more about how we define the types of texts dealt with in the study of English Literature. Showalter reflects on this too, repeating an anecdote from Terry Eagleton:

On the other hand, Eagleton admits, literature often uses a heightened and excessive language. "If you approach me at a bus stop," he quips, "and murmur 'Thou still unravished bride of quietness,' then I know I am in the presence of the literary." Of course, if your bus stop is not in Oxford, and if you are not a teacher of literature, the Keatsian murmurings that alert Terry Eagleton to the presence of the literary may well alert you to the presence of a nut-case. (21)
I love an academic text with a sense of humour!

It also made me think about how a quote from Neil Gaiman's Sandman, "It is a fool's prerogative to utter truths that no one else will speak," had been misattributed to Shakespeare online. Amusing, yes. Upsetting? Not really. I can see the logic behind the error.

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