Sunday, October 31, 2010

it's all hallows eve...

may your haunting be well and your trick or treating be merry.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

changes in opinion.

i'm rereading bloom's western canon.  don't ask me why, but one day i was like "bloom.  hmmm.  i loathe him.  he's my arch-nemesis.  i should see what he has to say about whitman."  so i picked the book up and read some.  then some more.  while i mostly disagree with him in most areas, i did finally find one thing on which i agree:

"There has never been an official American literary canon, and there never can be, for the aesthetic in America always exists as a lonely, idiosyncratic, isolated stance."

my world lit students are nearing the end of the 19th century, and with that end comes study of more american lit.  they've struggled connecting the ideas found in the poetry of emerson, thoreau, whitman, poe, dickinson, twain, and dunbar with the european poets and time periods they've studied before.  i think this issue of connection stems from the "lonely, idosyncratic, isolated stance" that bloom has touched on.

our canon, our literary history, is a motley crew, composed of writers that may have gained influence from their contemporaries and forbears, but ultimately wrote what they wanted to and how.  they broke molds, established new norms, and pretty much did what they wanted--damn the consequences, personal or otherwise.

i have never considered myself a fan of american literature, but i definitely can say that i have a growing respect for it and its idiosyncrasies.  i have grown to love whitman, dickinson, jewett, chopin, wharton, and dunbar.  i can add them to my very short list of american favorites: poe, bradbury, vonnegut, james, hemingway.  
as i continue teaching the literature of my native country, and therefore reading it closely, i hope this trend continues. 

vonnegut called himself a man without a country, and for a very long time i felt the same--a student of british literature displaced by place and time, restless when forced to consider my own country's work.

now i am better able to turn towards it, embrace its uniqueness, and appreciate it for what it is.  i have my country.  and others.

all of this because of harold bloom.  go figure.

post-script:  i still abhor mr. bloom.  i may now be a girl with a country, but some things will NEVER change.