Monday, June 23, 2008

What You Read


It is the feudal sentiment of good Sir Walter and his successors which makes our daughters despise the democracy which their fathers founded and dream of baronial castles, parks and coronets and a marriage with a British peer as the goal of their ambitions.

It is the same feudal sentiment which makes their mothers share and encourage their aspirations and equip them in Paris with all the ethereal ammunition required for the English campaign. Half the novels they read glorify these things, and it would be a wonder if the perpetual glorification did not produce its effect, for the idea that literature of amusement is a neutral agency which affects you neither for good nor for ill is a pernicious fallacy. What you read, especially in youth, will enter into your mental substance and will and must increase or impair your efficiency. Much you will outgrow, no doubt, but there always remains a deposit in the mind which you will never outgrow.

It is therefore of the utmost importance that that which you read should tend to put you en rapport with the present industrial age, in which, whether you like it or not, you have to live, rather than with a remote feudalism, whose ideals were essentially barbaric and certainly cruder and less humane than ours. — H. H. Boyesen in Forum.

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