Timeless

A constant whine among stupid people — professors and students alike — is that Literature classes should no longer have to read Shakespeare because he’s “not relevant to today’s world” or some such nonsense.

Now I can understand why students whine about reading Shakespeare, because they’re ignorant and immature, and “that’s not English, dude” — IDK wht u sez LOL — as though if it’s not “modern” then it’s not worth learning.

I will also disregard the usual cant about Shakespeare being beyond the pale because he’s, like, old and a Dead White Male Patriarch to boot.

Over at Taki’s place, David Cole has written an absolute masterpiece on Aaron, the arch-villian in Titus Andronicus  (one of my favorite of all the Bard’s works, because if you think that Brian De Palma is the be-all and end-all of violent writing, Andronicus  has him beaten by a country mile).

What Cole proves (as though any proof were needed) is just how relevant Shakespeare is in today’s world.  And what Shakespeare proves is that when it comes to the human condition, there’s very little new under the sun.

Go there now and read it all.

And then read Titus Andronicus, for the full treatment of malevolence and violence.

Oh, And By The Way: Fuck You

If anything can bring on a RCOB Moment, bullshit like this would be in the Top 3:

NPR Advises Readers to ’Decolonize” Their Bookshelves by Removing White Authors

If I did that, all I’d be left with are books by Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams.  Just so we’re clear on what’s being discussed here:

Since that pic was taken, quite a few have since been passed out to the Ungrateful Wretched Children (e.g. the Great Books collection on the right, snatched up by the Son&Heir, and on the top right, the Classic Novels, appropriated by Daughter).

If those motherfucking Commies at NPR think I’m going to “decolonize” my book collection to rid myself of “the colonialist ideas of narrative, storytelling, and literature”, I have news for them.  What they call “colonialist”, I call “classical” — they can’t just change the language to fit their little politically-correct narrative.

Well actually, they can — I just don’t have to go along with it.  And I won’t.

Here’s a thought.  If we’re going to get all purge-y and such, let’s not fuck around with bookcases.  Let’s get serious:

Quote Of The Day

From Stephen Green:

“All hell is going to break loose when they find out that I decided to tackle Proust during the shutdown.”

Damn, now that’s a bad shutdown.  No man should ever be so reduced as to having to read Marcel Proust.

Clearly, the VodkaPundit ran out of vodka during his isolation.

Binge Reading

Some smart guy has published a list of “Lockdown Reading” (as an alternative to watching yet another content-thin TV documentary series or gloomy Scandi-cop drama on Prime or Netflix).

I myself am currently two-thirds of the way through the John Masters Loss Of Eden trilogy (still one of the finest Great War novel series ever published).  For you Kindlers, they are here — the chronological order being Now God Be Thanked, Heart of War, and By The Green Of The Spring.  Forget trying to get them in paper- or hardback.  It took me about five years to collect my hardback copies, combing military second-hand bookstores over three states.

Here’s another list of war books, for those interested:

Derek Robinson’s RAF Quartet (WWII) and Hornet Squadron (WWI) series

Achingly sad, wonderfully funny, sometimes within the space of a couple sentences.  As soon as finances improve, I’ll be adding to my collections of each series.  Start with either Goshawk Squadron (WWI) or Piece of Cake (WWII), depending on your favorite war.

Quote Of The Day

From Clive James:

“I still haven’t forgiven CS Lewis for going on all those long walks with JRR Tolkien and failing to strangle him, thus to save us from hundreds of pages dripping with the wizardly wisdom of Gandalf and from the kind of movie in which Orlando Bloom defiantly flexes his delicate jaw at thousands of computer-generated orcs. In fact it would have been ever better if CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien could have strangled each other, so that we could also have been saved from the Chronicles of Narnia.”

Amen to all that.

En Passant

In an otherwise-unmemorable piece on woke-scolds ending Comedy As We Know It, NRO mouthpiece Jay Nordlinger says this:

I received a note from my old friend Larry Shackley, a longtime NR reader and a great admirer of P. G. Wodehouse. In fact, Larry is reading through the complete Wodehouse — complete — right now.

…as though this were somehow unusual.  Maybe it is, for Murkins who — for shame — don’t know who Pelham Grenville Wodehouse was.

To call P.G. Wodehouse one of the most-read humorist writers of the 20th century is to understate the thing — he is quite possibly the greatest humorist writer, ever.  Here’s a personal indicator.

When I left South Africa in 1986, I brought with me three suitcases of clothes, my cameras and a few other things I couldn’t bear to part with.  I brought only two books with me (from a library of well over a thousand), and those were The World of Psmith (a compendium of three books) and The Jeeves Omnibus (another compendium).  Both were written by P.G. Wodehouse.  I reasoned — correctly as it turned out, in those pre-Amazon times —  that I wouldn’t be able to find them here.

And there was just no way I was going to live in a house without Wodehouse.

Now, a lot of people don’t “get” Wodehouse because most of his situations are concerned with utterly trivial concerns — trivial maybe to us, nowadays, and certainly only non-trivial to the English upper classes circa 1928.  (One story involves the “theft” of a wonderful cook by one titled twerp from another titled household.)  But that doesn’t stop the brilliant writing from making one burst out with uncontrollable laughter occasionally.

And it should be said that Wodehouse himself was very much a fervent socialist — his take on the peccadilloes of the English upper classes is almost invariably satirical — yet his satire is not the bitter waspishness of Private Eye  magazine, but gentle and almost indulgent.  Look at these idiots, he seems to say, see how foolish and inconsequential they are.  One of my favorite lines from the Bertie Wooster stories comes when Bertie is beset with looming trouble and catastrophe, and says to his long-suffering “gentleman’s gentleman” Jeeves as he is being dressed for dinner:

“At a time like this, Jeeves, I wonder whether the length of one’s trousers actually matters,” and receives the gentle rebuke:
“There is never  a time, sir, when the length of one’s trousers doesn’t matter.”

Wodehouse left England for a career as a Hollywood scriptwriter, only to become embroiled in the Cold War-McCarthyism of the Fifties.  How ironic, then, that he, the one-time socialist, should write of that time:

“Humorists have been scared out of the business by the touchiness now prevailing in every section of the community. Wherever you look, on every shoulder there is a chip, in every eye a cold glitter warning you, if you know what is good for you, not to start anything.”

What was practiced on the socialists of that era is being repeated with even more venom and coldness by the P.C. (and mostly socialist) tribe of today.

Anyway, enough of that.  I think I’ll marmalade a slice of toast, and go and read A Pelican At Blandings, featuring the wonderfully-named Galahad Threepwood of whom it was said (and I paraphrase) that he was so ardent a party animal that he hadn’t slept till age fifty.  And if anyone should think that I resemble Galahad’s elder brother Clarence, the Earl of Emsworth, who looks with utter bewilderment on the modern world and prefers to retreat to his library and read — well, you’d be absolutely correct.