[ilds] The Greats

Godshalk, William (godshawl) godshawl at ucmail.uc.edu
Sat May 1 18:14:37 PDT 2010

The Geats? As in Beowulf?

I always start with the Geats.

W. L. Godshalk *
Department of English    *           *
University of Cincinnati*   * Stellar Disorder  *
OH 45221-0069 *  *
From: ilds-bounces at lists.uvic.ca [ilds-bounces at lists.uvic.ca] On Behalf Of Bruce Redwine [bredwine1968 at earthlink.net]
Sent: Saturday, May 01, 2010 6:25 PM
To: Charles-Sligh at utc.edu; ilds at lists.uvic.ca
Cc: Bruce Redwine
Subject: [ilds] The Greats

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/.


Charles L. Sligh
Assistant Professor
Department of English
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
charles-sligh at utc.edu<mailto:charles-sligh at utc.edu>

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