Posted without comment

“If we’re asking our children to read filth such as Shakespeare in school, and turning a blind eye to the content because it has been deemed by the gatekeepers of literary imperialism, known as ‘the canon’, as beyond moral reproach and contemporary social responsibility, then we cannot blame Eminem for corrupting the minds of our youths.”

You can, if you must, read the full article here.

35 responses to this post.

  1. No. I certainly must *not* read an article that contains that quote. And I’m a bit sad that it should be published by The Guardian.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Christine Lyon on April 21, 2018 at 7:20 pm

    I DID read it, but I am yet to be convinced that rap makes the grade as either literature or music. No doubt my age is a major factor here, but I simply find rap too ‘shouty’ and repetitive to really make any appeal to me. I enjoy the reflective, sensitive work of many writers and artists from a wide variety of backgrounds and ethnicities, but rap has never managed to get through to me on any but the most superficial level. I am quite willing to accept that out there there are writers and artists who could break down all those barriers for me, and it certainly would not occur to me to object to children studying the best of any genre : I would not wish to see young minds closed to new, fresh ideas. I just demand the right to apply the discrimination it has taken me seven decades to acquire to choosing what gives me pleasure and satisfaction.

    Reply

    • Hello Chris, I concur entirely. And I find myself objecting vehemently to the often implied contention that rap and rap alone is representative of black culture, and to dislike rap is, in effect, to dislike the culture of an entire race of people. This is nonsense. It is like contending that Indian culture is essentially represented by Bollywood. (And many do!) Such things I find deeply patronising, and illiberal.

      Is it really doing any favour to black kids to tell them that their culture is rap, and that they mustn’t look beyond it to Shakespeare and Wordsworth? I’m so glad that no-one made me feel when I was growing up that the likes of Shakespeare and Wordsworth weren’t for me!

      Best wishes, Himadri

      Reply

      • That’s an excellent point. And Shakespeare created his violent characters and plots within the context of a play, a story. They were not hate speech made in a vacuum. There was a moral perspective from which to view those characters, their speeches and actions.
        Recently, for a few weeks there was a big red billboard on Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles that proclaimed in huge letters “Kill all the lawyers!”. In small letters it attributed the quotation to William Shakespeare. In even smaller letters at the bottom it bore the name of a new lawyer show on CBS television. That’s Hollywood for ya.
        I was appalled. I complained to the city and the bar association. They did nothing. They apparently failed to see the distinction between dangerous hate speech and literature. I don’t think Shakespeare would be very happy about having his dialogue plucked out of context and plastered on a billboard like a mandate for violence.
        Thanks, Himadri, for calling attention to this disturbing failure on society’s part to apply rationality to various art forms.

  3. Well, I read the article, which was stunningly disjointed and logically dodgy even though what Adabayo is commenting on is certainly valid, i.e. that young black youth is not given enough opportunity nor provided adequate role models to thrive in the literary arts. Not sure though that changing Kendrick Lamar’s Pulitzer Prize category from literature to music would have achieved that. Nor am I convinced that not recognizing the violence in “Romeo & Juliet” leads somehow to Eminem. But Adabayo’s underlying premise that the cultural cards are stacked against anyone of color is accurate; just wish Adabayo could have separated his spleen from his brain. Also, stunning that he points to QE2 as some kind of font of pc award giving. Seriously?

    Reply

    • Hello Jaime,
      I agree that there is indeed a problem that needs to be addressed, although I do question whether focussing on racial differences in matters of cultural aspirations is doing anyone any favours. I too grew up as a member of an ethnic minority in a predominantly white environment, and, given the more overt racism of the 60s and 70s, found myself very much, as it were, on the “receiving end”; but I am rather glad that no-one back then imagined that the only cultural values I could relate to or adopt as my own were those created by people sharing my ethnicity, and that, therefore, the likes of Shakespeare or Wordsworth or Dickens were not for me.

      A problem certainly remains, but before we can address it, we must find adequate terms to define it. This particular article, which you rightly describe as “stunningly disjointed and logically dodgy”, does not even come close. If anything, such attitudes, disjointed and incoherent as they are, exacerbate matters. I really do worry that we are heading for cultural apartheid.

      Best wishes, Himadri

      Reply

      • I’m not sure the Pulitzer is assigning and/or limiting the cultural practices of a specific ethnic group. Though their description of the work does refer to African Americans specifically. What they wrote was: “Damn: Recording released on April 14, 2017, a virtuosic song collection unified by its vernacular authenticity and rhythmic dynamism that offers affecting vignettes capturing the complexity of modern African-American life.” What people writing positively about the award say is that it widened the field of what is considered musical art form. I found Pulitzer juror David Hadju’s comments interesting: “he and his colleagues had listened to more than 100 ‘pieces of classical music that drew upon hip-hop as a resource’ during the selection process, which in turn led the committee to ‘put on the table the fact that (rap music) has value on its own terms and not just as a resource for use in a field that is more broadly recognized by the institutional establishment as serious or legitimate’.” Adabayo is using the event to make political hay out of something outside the parameters of what the award represented in the minds of the jurors.

      • Thank you for this. I had not seen the Pulitzer citation. I can’t say I can get too worked up either about the Pulitzer prize or any other prize (including the Nobel): I find it hard to take these prizes very seriously.

        On the question of whether rap is poetry, I think it certainly is: if it ain’t prose it’s poetry – there’s no third option – and since this ain’t prose it has to be poetry. Whether or not it is good poetry is, of course, another matter, and, despite my exposure to rap being, admittedly, very limited, I have not observed anything beyond a juxtaposition of many similar-sounding words. And I think I want considerably more than this from poetry.

        The Pulitzer citation mentions its “vernacular authenticity” and its “rhythmic dynamism”. Certainly none of my black friends speak in the manner of rap lyrics – unless they’re putting it on to have a laugh – but it may well be that a great many people do indeed speak in this manner: I wouldn’t dispute what I don’t know. But merely reproducing these speech patterns is not, as far as I can see, indicative of any great literary merit. And as for “rhythmic dynamism”, I can think off the top of my head of any number of poems that are rhythmically far more complex and far more subtle than anything I have heard in rap.

        But yes, it may certainly be argued that, given my age and my background, I am not qualified to pass judgement on these matters. Fair point. But I would be grateful if the proponents of rap as an art form worthy of being taught could at least specify what there is in the form that merits being taught. For I am not impressed merely by the argument that it is widely popular, or that it is predominantly created and enjoyed by people of a specific race: teaching, either of literature or of anything else, should aim to expand a child’s horizons rather than merely confirm the child’s pre-existing preferences.

        I’m certainly glad this kind of patronising claptrap wasn’t around when I was growing up – that no-one thought that, given my Indian origins, I should be restricted to “studying” Bollywood culture.

      • I guess that’s what I feel is missed, or misrepresented, in your argument. The prize doesn’t restrict anyone to anything, nor does it ask for rap to be entered into the canon of great literature and taught in universities. It simply awards a musician for effectively representing a section of culture and that in doing so he has influenced other sections of culture. Given that millions of these songs are produced and that the people who listen to them are devoted fans that is likely an accurate perception. There is absolutely no one saying African Americans must now restrict their musical taste to rap.

      • You’re right: I should not have used the word “restricted”.

        I have no comment to make about the Pulitzer Prize itself, or on their reasons for awarding it.

        My objection is to that piece in the Guardian. In proposing that rap be taught in schools; and in denigrating the more traditional forms of literature that are currently taught; the author of this piece is clearly indicating that the child should be directed more towards rap than towards Shakespeare. This is not restriction as such, I agree, but it is a prioritisation on the basis of the child’s ethnicity; and that I find troubling, to say the least.

      • Indeed, the article is silly.

      • And by silly I mean most of the suggestions put forth by the author won’t accomplish what he hopes they will accomplish, which is to make young black kids feel validated. The prize does that as effectively as it can be done on its greater institutional level. The rant doesn’t work for all its good intentions.

      • Indeed. When I was growing up, if someone had thought that a culture popular with Indian people (Bollywood, say) should be prioritised for me to make me feel validated, that wouldn’t have worked either. It would merely have made me feel even more sidelined, and would have restricted my horizons.

  4. Historically the best does rise to the top. The fact that feminist scholars have scoured the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries to find good equivalents to Wordsworth and Keats and have failed, speaks to that. But why doesn’t the Guardian mention some legitimate contenders for a spot in the canon such as Toni Morrison, Zadie Smith, Rita Dove, Caryl Phillips, Yusef Komunyakaa (I am sticking to contemporary authors here)?

    Reply

    • Hello Gubbinal,
      The best does, generally, I agree, rise to the top, though not perhaps always: given the great disadvantages historically faced by people on account of their gender, their race, their social class, it is inevitable that there has been many a flower that was born to blush unseen. But those that have survived have survived for a reason, and denigrating them for reasons that have little to do with literary standards I do, I must admit, find depressing.

      What worries me is what I call “cultural apartheid” – the belief that one can only feel close to works of art created by artists sharing one’s own ethnicity. So yes, let’s teach those wonderful writers you mention, but teach them not because they’re black, but because they’re good. And let us not assume that black kids will naturally be attracted to black writers rather than to white. (Or vice versa for that matter.) Appreciation of literature has nothing to do with the ethnicity either of the reader or of the writer, and it is insulting to imagine otherwise.

      There is currently great pressure to devise the curriculum on the basis of the students’ various ethnicities. This must be resisted. Those of us who can see this for the insidious nonsense it is must speak up against it.

      Reply

  5. Posted by Linda on April 22, 2018 at 8:37 pm

    I read this article and thought it was a badly written rant However, a couple of interesting points are raised. Firstly, everyone appears to know “what the Guardian does” (but still keep on reading and criticising) and the paper takes a lot of flak for allowing a wide variety of articles online. In a post Brexit world, it is vital to know what others believe. I think the writing is illogical and exaggerated but it is important to be aware that a group of people hold such opinions so the Guardian should be publishing stuff which upsets us. We need to know. I agree with Himadri’s comments in that the writer is not representative of the black community as a whole. Secondly, what cultural value do you place on rap? Is it poetry? Is some of it poetry? Does it have literary value? I recognise its importance to some young people but it has zero importance for me. My opinion (for what it is worth) is that it is another musical fashion. As for the “filth” in Shakespeare, well, rap has a strong misogynistic violent bias that I would not be recommending to a class of impressionable teenagers. If that were all Shakespeare offered, the writer might have some kind of point but of course that is so far from the truth it doesn’t seem worth exploring that here. What I take from the article is that the writer feels very very angry, that Lamarr getting a Pulitzer is a validation of the way he sees his culture, and gives him an opportunity to rail against his perceived cultural grievances. Whether we agree or not, I believe it is important for all of us to allow the representation of his views and to listen.

    Reply

    • Hello Linda,
      The point you make is a very strong one, and hard to answer: even given that I vehemently disagree with the views expressed in that article, is it not correct that the Guardian should allow such views to be expressed?

      Yes, you’re right: it should. But I think there are a couple of counter points that may be made.

      The first is that the view that one’s aesthetic values are determined by one’s ethnicity is, to my mind at least, not merely wrong-headed, but dangerous: it is quite widespread these days, and is already, I think, leading to what I can only describe as cultural apartheid. And the frequency with which this view finds expression in the Guardian arts pages does suggest to me that the editorial board of these arts pages is, to some degree at least, in sympathy with it. And thus, my criticism may justly be directed to the editorial board as well as to this specific writer.

      That point may possibly be considered a bit tenuous, but the second, I think, is stronger. And that is: if the Guardian does feel it right, for whatever reason, to give repeated exposure to this particular point of view, it should at least ensure that this point of view is coherently made; and that to allow a writer to describe Shakespeare as “filth” does no credit at all to the paper, and, indeed, goes a long way towards destroying its credibility as a platform for reasoned discourse and debate on this matter.

      Reply

      • Posted by Linda on April 23, 2018 at 9:10 am

        I totally agree with you and I would be interested to hear a reply from the Guardian editorial board as to why such a badly written, illogically argued piece was passed. Before I deleted my Facebook account, I used to get feeds from Jayda Fransen (ha ha my IPad changed her name to Frankenstein!) no doubt because I had once replied telling them what utter bo****cks they were spouting, but nevertheless I read some of it as it was all so far from my thinking that I felt I needed to know. So I agree with you in your assessment of cultural apartheid and see our society as dividing into clumps of people who exist parallel to each other but whose lives and beliefs do not merge. It is one of my reasons for the Brexit calamity but if we don’t listen to each other, there may be more trouble ahead.

      • Yes, I do agree that we should listen to each other. And also disagree with each other, argue with each other. And it is very unfortunate that we appear not to have found ways of disagreeing without being disagreeable: all arguments are so confrontational these days, with each side aiming for victory rather than understanding, and no side ever willing to concede the smallest point for fear of losing face.

        But having said that, we must also concede that there are some – indeed, many – with whom it is not possible to engage in argument. Jayda Frankenstein for instance: the only reasonable response to certain things is simply to tell them, as you had done, that they are talking utter bollocks. (It’s OK – I am fine with using a few rude words on this blog, especially when, as in this case, they are the right words to use!)

        But I certainly wouldn’t be averse to engaging in reasoned debate with someone who cares to make arguments for regarding rap as a serious art form – that is, arguments based on literary or musical analysis, rather than mere assertions rooted in facile identity politics.

  6. I wonder of the article was originally destined for April 1st, got shelved, and was then published at a later date because some subeditor didn’t realise it was a spoof?

    Or then again, it could be an example of the clickbait which appears more and more often in the Guardian. If so it succeeded, judging by the number of comments – many of which argue from various perspectives that the article is nonsense!

    Reply

    • Ah – I didn’t look at the Comments section. From past experience, there’s nothing that makes one lose one’s faith in humanity so quickly as reading these Comments sections! But I’m certainly glad that the comments on this occasion recognised this piece to be nonsense. But while this particular article is very obviously nonsense, the ideas it propounds do seem to me distressingly widespread (though rarely stated in so unrestrained a manner). And, clickbait or not, these arguments should not be allowed to pass unopposed.

      Reply

  7. Posted by Charley on April 25, 2018 at 6:35 pm

    I’m thinking that ‘Posted without Comment’ might just turn out to break the record on comments!

    Reply

    • I’m not sure that we are going round in circles. I am saying no more than:

      (a) Cinema and novels are different art forms, governed by very different aesthetic criteria; and
      (b) One shouldn’t apply the criteria that determine excellence in one form to the other.

      I don’t think you dissent with either, so we are in agreement.

      As to whether one prefers novels or films, there we do possibly differ, but that’s a matter of personal choice, where reaching agreement is hardly the point!

      Reply

    • Certainly the ratio of (summed length of comments):(length of post) is pretty high…

      Reply

  8. Posted by Chris Jennings on April 28, 2018 at 1:32 pm

    Hi Himadri,

    Not sure if you ever got round to reading Literature Lost, by John M. Ellis, but that is in this general area, and partly examines the rise of this sort of thinking and its origins, and was published in the late 90s, if I remember. Another, even earlier book that I read recently was In Defense of Elitism, published in 1995. The author, William A. Henry III, a Pullitzer-Prize-winning critic, feels compelled in the first pages to lay out his solid liberal credentials (a Democrat, a donor to left-of-centre social causes, etc.) because he realises how unfashionable his views had now become. It didn’t work, of course, as this now seems to be almost a proscribed book on American campuses and viewed as thought it were a tract of the far right.

    The arguments of these books show how little things have changed essentially, which is usually the case with very deep changes in society, as it’s only the superficial, more fashionable changes that have been transformed or have vanished a decade or so later. In fact there were times when I wondered if Henry’s book is where Theodore Dalrymple sources many of his ideas, though I’m sure it’s simply an affinity in outlook.

    Best,
    Chris

    Reply

    • Hello Chris, I am afraid I have read neither of the books you mention (although I’ll certainly hunt them out), but I was struck by your description of William Henry laying out his liberal credentials. For I too realise that many of the views I have expressed on these matters over the years are classed as “reactionary”, despite my continuing to think of myself as liberal. I suppose this raises questions on definitions; but the general hostility in liberal-left circles to what is commonly referred to as “high culture” has meant that the Right can now pose as “Defenders of Culture”. I find it all very odd: it has certainly not been my experience, after all, that people from the Right are more noticeably cultured than those on the Left. Why have these “Culture Wars” taken on these political hues, I wonder?

      But this is not a new thing. It is clear from Fathers and Sons, for instance, that one of the main issues Turgenev has about the political Left of his time is its rejection of high culture. Yes, I suppose it’s true that if Beethoven and Pushkin could survive the disdain of Bazarov, they will survive also the assaults currently being made. But nonetheless, this constant denigration and sidelining of that which is important to our wellbeing simply cannot be a good thing. And the insistence on seeking in the arts validation of our own identity, and judging the arts primarily or even solely on that criterion, is utter madness: not even Bazarov had thought of that.

      I wonder what Turgenev would have made of all this identity politics? I think I can guess…

      Reply

      • Posted by Chris Jennings on May 6, 2018 at 10:49 am

        From what I’ve read of the ‘culture wars’, it seems those calling for the literary canon to be abandoned do seem to be from the Left: they were originally the sixties’ generation of radical activists, many of whom were since installed in the universities. I’ve always viewed politics as just one aspect of literature, not the other way around, and so I probably have more in common with those a-political aesthetic types who tend to be accused of accepting the status quo by default – those whose very complacency serves only to reinforce the dominant ideology of the imperialist gatekeepers of patriarchal hegemony which (by this point my eyes have usually glazed over, I must admit).

        But I’ve always felt that if you want to change society then study politics and go and change society. It seems to me you have lost your way a bit if that is your aim yet you spend most of your time talking about Milton or Conrad or sprung rhythm. After all, the greater gulf that has lately opened up between rich and poor, or the fact Trump is now President, really have very little to do with having the wrong attitude to Shakespeare.

        Best,
        Chris

      • Hello Chris, first of all, my apologies for my delay in replying.

        My own position is very similar to the one you describe: literature, and the other arts as well, can, I feel, encompass politics, but they are not in themselves aspects of politics. Currently, the arts are under pressure, it seems to me, from both the Left and the Right: attacks on the canon do, as you say, come from the Left, and they have been exacerbated by the rise both of relativism, and of identity politics: few seem to take seriously the idea of literary merit as anything other than purely subjective; and when merit is sought, it is in terms of how and to what extent any work validates and asserts the reader’s self-perceived sense of identity. And at the same time, there comes a crude utilitarianism from the Right, that devalues and sidelines anything that is not efficient in creating wealth.

        Your final point is well taken: insisting on an ideological purity in our interpretation of literature is hardly going to aid us in any political struggle we may choose to undertake!

  9. I’ve been thinking a bit about this issue. I don’t think it is possible to escape politics within any art form. Purely formalist writing (I’m going to narrow my discussion to writing, though I think what I’m saying applies to almost any art form) is not only difficult to practice, it has little endurance. It is writing that takes a stance that appeals to wider audiences, and to discriminating ones. And I think if you look at the canon you will find most works do have a political and social stance, which is separate from the work’s formalist content. I’m tempted to say ALL art. This may not be clear to us when reading work that is 100, 200 years old for the obvious reason that those political issues are not OUR political issues. The liberal complaint about the canon is that it traditionally supports the ruling class to the exclusion of other thought, language and practices, and that it validates the values of that class. This is not inaccurate. Especially since artists have always been supported by the ruling class, who have used artists for their own form of propaganda and glorification. One only need look at Shakespeare’s histories to verify that. Shakespeare’s work stands, in spite of that, because it also incorporates a broader humanist perspective, his glorification of the Tudor line becomes a kind of model for humanity. As he pleased QE1 so he pleased humanity. That the ruling class could support the technically most proficient artists is another issue, but one that is also ultimately tied into politics. Today’s major political issues are tied into identity politics, and a huge number of artists intuitively (and directly) understand that. Plus, their struggle to survive is linked into current politics, as it always has been.

    Reply

    • Hello Jaime, sorry about the late reply, but I, too, needed some time to think about the very important issues you raise.

      I think you’re absolutely right that, since no work of art can be created within a political vacuum, no work could possibly exclude politics. Shakespeare did indeed write to please the Tudor monarchy. And when James came to the throne, he wrote Macbeth to please the new Scottish king. And, in King Lear, Shakespeare celebrated the creation (which was not formalised till 1707) of a united Britain (“I smell the blood of a British man”); conspicuously presented the Scottish duke (Duke of Albany) as a good man; and depicted the dire consequences of dissolution of a country. All of this to give comnfort to the new king, and the new ruling class. There are many other examples also of artists playing to those in power.

      However, I do think that there is nowadays too great a focus on this political element; and there is also an unstated assumption that this political element is so central, that it colours everything else in the work. I think both are demonstrably not true. Whatever elements of King Lear we may find that are intended to flatter King James, far more prominent are elements that no king, that no ruling power, either then or now, could be happy with:

      So distribution should undo excess,
      And each man have enough.

      … handy-dandy, which
      is the justice, which is the thief?

      Thou hast seen
      a farmer’s dog bark at a beggar?
      … And the creature run from the cur? There thou
      mightst behold the great image of authority: a
      dog’s obeyed in office.

      The usurer hangs the cozener.
      Through tatter’d clothes small vices do appear;
      Robes and furr’d gowns hide all. Plate sin with gold,
      And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks:
      Arm it in rags, a pigmy’s straw does pierce it.
      None does offend, none, I say, none

      And even if Macbeth had indeed been written to flatter the Scottish king, its examination of human evil, and what it does to the human soul even on this bank and shoal of time, have nothing to do with political expediency. If the liberal complaint about the canon is indeed “that it traditionally supports the ruling class to the exclusion of other thought, language and practices, and that it validates the values of that class”, then I’d say those who are making this “liberal” complaint haven’t read these works with adequate care.

      There are, I agree, many other works of undoubted greatness that do, indeed, support the ruling class and validate its values. The Aeneid is an obvious example: it is written specifically to glorify Emperor Augustus, and the Augustan Empire. But to see it solely in those terms is to take too partial a view of it. Seamus Heaney, in his introduction to his translation of Book VI, laments the poem’s glorification of Augustus, and sees it as a flaw. (I’m afraid I can’t quote from Heaney’s introduction, as I don’t have the book with me right now.) But Heaney is a good enough reader to look beyond this, and see other qualities in the poem. While he is quite clearly not blind to the comfort it offers to Augustus; and while he, further, sees this as a flaw; he is also utterly besotted with what else the poem has to offer: it means a great deal to him personally. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all put out political partisanship aside and, like Heaney, look beyond it to discover what else these works have to offer? Those liberal commentators who cannot do this seem to me, frankly, bad readers. Which is fair enough, but perhaps they should not be making such an exhibition of how bad they are at reading.

      There are also many, many other works where politics play very little part, if any. I’m sure that if one looks hard enough, one could find some political element to, say, A Midsummer Night’s Dream or to Much Ado About Nothing, but this element, even if it exists, is but peripheral, and to pull it into the centre and to criticise the work on that account seems to me frankly pointless and silly.

      These great works that form the canon, and many other works, I’m sure, that are of considerable merit but have for some reason not achieved canonical status, incorporate, as you put it, “a broader humanist perspective”. Perhaps we should learn to recognise and to admire these perspectives, even in those cases where the comfort it affords to the ruling classes is prominent.

      There are also cases, it seems to me, of political interpretations taking centre stage when they are, at best, peripheral. It reminds me of that old proverb that to a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail. So a scholar armed with postcolonial theory sees The Tempest as a play primarily about colonialisation. I really don’t think it is. Or, at least, the theme of colonialisation is, at best, a peripheral rather than a central theme. But so pervasive has this interpretation now become, it is now virtually axiomatic that colonialism is the play’s central theme. This obscures so many other things about this play.

      And, of course, as you put it, “today’s major political issues are tied into identity politics”. For reasons I have gone on about on this blog at no doubt tedious length, I do find this very depressing. And seeing literature through the lens of identity politics is, as far as I can see, disastrous. This marriage between identity politics (which reinforces our various differences, and frowns upon attempts to overcome them) and of relativism (which refuses to acknowledge any concept of literary merit that is not subjective) has produced some predictably ugly offspring. The article I linked to seems a particularly unpleasant example.

      Reply

      • I think I made that point, that a work needs to have more than a political spin: “One only need look at Shakespeare’s histories to verify that. Shakespeare’s work stands, in spite of that, because it also incorporates a broader humanist perspective, his glorification of the Tudor line becomes a kind of model for humanity.” And I certainly can’t complain about your complaint about identity politics. As a young writer starting out I made a choice about whether or not to favor identity politics by focusing on the racism suffered by my father’s family (and which affected my brother and me, positively in career terms for my brother and negatively in personal terms) in my writing. I chose not to, and I have to say, I think my writing career would have been a lot easier if I hadn’t made that decision. Even so, there are virtues to inclusive criteria in the arts. Huge virtues, even when offset by muddy thinkers, such as above article writer. By the way, Heaney had no problem using identity politics in his writing, though he tended to do it in a sentimental way, giving him access to establishment writing values while claiming a set of moral and historical values that could not be accessed by other British writers.

      • Hello Jaime, yes, we are indeed in agreement. I quoted from your comment a number of times, agreeing with you. I was merely expanding ion a few points.
        As for Heaney, he certainly makes much use of his background, but most writers do this to some extent, and I don’t have a problem with that. I’m not sure if that is what you mean about Heaney “using identity politics”.
        Best wishes, Himadri

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