[ilds] The Greats

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Sat May 1 15:25:26 PDT 2010

Pardon my being blunt, Charles, but I find this response just a trifle disingenuous.  I don't know what's being taught in the university these days, but when I took a course in the Victorian novel, the syllabus included selected works by Emily Brontë, Charlotte Brontë, William Thackeray, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, and Joseph Conrad.  No apologies were offered for these authors, and no effort was made to give equal time to the sexes.  We simply read the "greats."  Or as one professor announced at the beginning of the quarter, "We read only great literature in my class."  Moreover, all these writers were considered "great" by a standard or standards that paid no heed to individual tastes and the rule of de gustibus non est disputandum, i.e., all taste is relative.  I seriously doubt that today's syllabus for the Victorian novel has changed much.  But then I'm always being surprised — and if it has changed, I find that lamentable.  My point:  universal standards exist, and we apply them all the time. Now, we may find it hard to define precisely what those standards are, but I have no doubt they exist.


On May 1, 2010, at 2:01 PM, Charles Sligh wrote:

> Bruce Redwine wrote:
>> Which is not to say we don't make judgments and uphold standards all 
>> the time.  Even you, Charles. 
> Certainly.  I am ever anxious to underscore my subjective limits.  I do 
> that by setting those limits at the top of list. 
> All that I write is merely my way of seeing the matter.   And following 
> Pater, I believe that, given the difficulties of perception, 
> "discrimination" is the most important critical tool of all:  "Why do I 
> find or feel this and not that about the prose style?  What does this 
> prose style remind me of, and why?" 
> The important difference is that I do not insist on universal 
> categories, generalized categories, or ideal standards as the measure.  
> I do not insist that I am pronouncing according to anything greater than 
> my taste, my experience. 
> After all, every sentence above includes the first-person pronoun.   I 
> learned that reservation--that foregrounding of the subjective--in part 
> from reading /The Alexandria Quartet/. 
> C&c.
> -- 
> ********************************************
> Charles L. Sligh
> Assistant Professor
> Department of English
> University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
> charles-sligh at utc.edu
> ********************************************

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