Thisby Thestoop and the Black Mountain

It’s fair to say that I read a good number of books children’s books. Having kids of my own, I like to pilfer their shelves from time to time. In our house, we like to stock “the classics” as a sort of quality guarantee. Since children’s books became a genre there have been writers who have tried to cash in on the children’s market as a way to make a quick buck with little effort. Reading “the classics” means that you get the best books from every era without having to wade through the formulaic twaddle, most of which has mercifully been forgotten over the years.
It’s a different story with modern children’s books. Picking up a new children’s book means taking a chance on wasting your time, and the modern children’s book publishing machine loves tried and true formulas. After the success of Harry Potter we got books about schools for magical/mythological/specially talented kids who are sorted into groups based on their personalities. After The Hunger Games took off, we’ve have had m…

The Pseudo-Classicist

"[Mortimer] Adler, founder of the Great Books movement, put it this way: 'Some basic truths are to be found in the great books, but many more errors will also be found there, because a plurality of errors is always to be found for every single truth.' This attitude contrasts with that of the pseudo-classicist who feels that he has entered this great conversation simply because he has obtained a copy of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations and strings a bunch of them together like wash on the line. But it is not enough simply to cite great names from the past, heedless of the great controversies (and wars) they had with one another."

(Douglas Wilson, Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning, p. 84)

Comments