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All excellent points.

One of the greatest lessons I received as an undergraduate was from a young professor who opened his Shakespeare course by literally tearing into Othello as a horribly plotted drama with so many faults which would not pass today in any of the literate arts. (I can give details on what he said).

The net effect was to render Shakespeare's canonicity suspect, and then to reconstruct our understanding of the Bard. Some people did not take to kindly to the "tactic" since some authors are obviously sacrosanct within the canon.

In the USA, we read the earliest works of American Literature in much the same fashion, as though they are the very building blocks of our culture. But a close and wary eye on the literature makes you really wonder about the worth of, say, Edwards' "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." Are we reading it because it was first? Well, yes.

by Upstate NY on Fri Oct 3rd, 2008 at 01:40:49 PM EST
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