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‘Why Isn’t He More Well Known?’ Ponders Private English Tutor

November 18, 2013
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Thoughts From The Corner

George Macaulay Trevelyn, in his English Social History said:

‘Education has produced a vast population able to read but unable to distinguish what is worth reading.’

At the risk of being called ‘snobbish’ this private tutor agree with him.

Part of my problem, as I see it, is that I have received an education in English Literature that exceeds that received by the majority. Having been corralled, pushed, shoved, directed and tugged between certain literary parameters, I was Educated into what is considered ‘Good Literature’ by an Ivory Tower Elite. The considered classics of the likes of Tolstoy, Dickens and Twain I devoured with aplomb. I was taught to dissect and ravage to within an inch of their broken spines, classic after classic after classic.

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In the eyes of society, I guess I am what is termed ‘Educated’. Therein lies the rub – I totally agree with Mr Trevelyn but feel that, perhaps, I shouldn’t.

Following his argument through, the novels that immediately spring to mind are E. L. James’ ‘Shades of. . . ‘ trilogy. Joining many of those who have decried their literary quality, I also put my hand in the air and readily admit to not having read them. I have, however, stood in second hand/thrift shops and devoured several pages of the juicier bits. Despite becoming hot under the collar, I am willing to pronounce that I found the quality of writing to be poor. In Mr T’s words, I consider them to be not ‘worth reading’.

Having said that I do wonder why they sold by the pallet load. What is it about them that caught the imagination of the masses? At certain times, there are certain things lacking quality that create a stir. They have a certain something that causes them to go viral. I think the same can be said of films, film stars, songs and pop stars. It is as if society needs something to latch on to. There has to be a latest craze, a buzz that creates a talking point. Don’t look at me – I don’t know what it is. :-)

When I go to my local market I see box upon box of used books. ‘Wonderful!’ thinks I. Then when I’m close enough to read their spines (after having put on my goggles)  I remember why I didn’t purchase any last time I browsed. Trashy romances fit only for the skip/dumpster. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Why bother teaching people (predominantly females in this case – why is that?) to read but not teach them to distinguish between what is and what isn’t worth reading?

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Then something inside me rails against this opinion when I see half a dozen [a gaggle :-)] of ladies enthusiastically searching through the aforementioned boxes. They like them, they love them, they talk to their friends about them and pass them on to be read by others. Is there anything wrong with that asks this private tutor?

I hear the role of Christian Grey is up for grabs – should I apply?

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2 Comments
  1. I have read a few of those romance novels, and they were okay. I read a variety of genres. What is ‘worth reading’ to me might not mean the same thing to you, so I guess I don’t hold the same point of view. For me, I like to fill in some of my stress filled day with some reading that I don’t have to ponder and think about. Give me something light or silly! It gives me a bright spot in my day. Doesn’t that make it worth reading? By the way, I’ve never read the ‘shades of’ books either, and I really don’t plan on it. From what I hear, they are just not for me.

    • I take your point 100% – ‘one man’s meat. . . ‘ and all that. As I said, I have been ‘educated’ into a certain type of book, there’s nothing I can do about that now.

      I have just read a book by Gervase Phinn. It’ll never win the ‘Booker’ prize but it had me laughing out loud. I guess that’s my equivalent to your ‘light or silly’.

      I guess the important thing is that we read and get enjoyment out of it.

      Thanks for taking time out to comment.

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