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The Politically Incorrect Guide to English And American Literature (Politically Incorrect Guides) Paperback – November 13, 2006

3.6 out of 5 stars 67 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

''A wise and sobering book that is required reading for anyone who cares about the future of the humanities.'' --Roger Kimball, co-editor and publisher, The New Criterion and publisher, Encounter Books --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From the Back Cover

What PC English professors don't want you to learn from . . .

- Beowulf: If we don't admire heroes, there's something wrong with us

- Chaucer: Chivalry has contributed enormously to women's happiness

- Shakespeare: Some choices are inherently destructive (it's just built into the nature of things)

- Milton: Our intellectual freedoms are Christian, not anti-Christian, in origin

- Jane Austen: Most men would be improved if they were more patriarchal than they actually are

- Dickens: Reformers can do more harm than the injustices they set out to reform

- T. S. Eliot: Tradition is necessary to culture

- Flannery O'Connor: Even modern American liberals aren't immune to original sin

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE


Product Details

  • Series: Politically Incorrect Guides
  • Paperback: 278 pages
  • Publisher: Regnery Publishing (November 13, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596980117
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596980112
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 7.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #379,652 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
In The Politically Incorrect Guide to English Literature, Elizabeth Kantor has great fun skewering silly English literature professors, a broad and easy target, but the real point of the book is the joy of reading great literature because it is good and true. The book includes a chronological survey of the greatest hits of English literature and gives fresh insights into why these really are the greatest hits. Read Chaucer for a rich, multi-layered tapestry of life invigorated, not oppressed, by chivalry, authority, and Christianity. Read Shakespeare for the most amazing heartbreaking and real characters, who show that there really is such a thing as human nature, that some choices are inherently destructive, and that love and sex are serious things. Read Jane Austen because she is funny.

After reading this book, I wanted to click off the television, put down the newspaper and pick up books off my shelf I haven't looked at since college, not because they're good for me, but because they're just plain good. Any high school senior would benefit from this book, as a sort of inoculation against the silly stuff that passes for English literature study in many colleges. Those of us who were high school seniors many years ago will be reminded how much fun it is to read plays out loud, memorize poetry, and gossip about the characters of great novels. Definitely five stars.
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Format: Paperback
Remember when Ernie on "My Three Sons" had to memorize the beginning of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in Middle English? It was a fairly common English assignment for kids not too long ago, and Elizabeth Kantor shows why such projects should never have been abandoned.

Kantor's enthusiasm for literature is infectious. Beginning with Beowulf (which turns out to be a lot more interesting than I recall) and carrying through to T.S. Eliot, Kantor shows the value that great English and American Literature adds to our lives, and shows how the PC nonsense that has infected our universities is but confusion worse confounded. In fact, the sidebars, which include side-splittingly (though unintentionally) funny quotations from professors and grad students, are half the fun of the book.

Whether you wish to broaden your own horizons or your children's, this guide is an excellent guide on what to read and why.
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Format: Paperback
I am very fortunate that I am 65 years old and was exposed to great literature before the politically correct crowd took over our high schools and universities. Elizabeth Kantor shows in this book how impoverished we all are when we relegate the classics as irrelevant. When I take note of the fact that high school English classes are reading "The Book Thief" instead of Shakespeare, it makes me sad. They are missing so much.

One of the nicest things about this book is the literature that the author recommends. We can access most of it at our local libraries.

Miss Kantor may not be to everyone's taste, but she has done a service here by illuminating our American and English literature heritage.
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This popular level book is 90% positive and 10% negative. The positive components are much stronger and brighter than the negatives.

The positive side is a brisk walk through of some of the great books of English Literature. This guide whets your appetite to read many of the great books and gives the author's take on the key insights readers can learn from these great, and long considered great, books. And what she highlights is not what today we'd call "politically correct".

Elizabeth Kantor delivers us an easy to read, tour guide book, accesible to the general non-specialist adult reader, that outlines some 'lessons to be learned' from Beowulf (the value of heroism), Chaucer (the vibrancy of medieval Christendom and it's culture), Shakespeare (his keen insight into human nature), Milton (contrary to modern conventional wisdom, liberty and religious faith are not opposites), Jane Austen (how patriarchal values benefit women). This section is humorous, interesting, thought provoking and enlightening. Even when you don't agree with her. It's a shame this wonderful overview was limited to a mere 90% of the book.

It's also a shame it's not a bigger book. I would love to see Kantor tackle more books, including Homer. That's not English Literature of course, but it would be a great addition. After all the study of Homer dominated traditional academic teaching for centuries. Perhaps we will see future sequels.

The negative side, about 10% all told, is the author's critique of the way "post-modernists" and "political correctness" have distorted and undermined academic study of English Literature. This section is weaker and somewhat repetitive, although that repetition in some way reflects the echo chamber nature of academic post-modernism.
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Format: Paperback
In the summer of 2007, I purchased The Politically Incorrect Guide to English and American Literature. The book's thesis is that English departments at many universities are staffed by professors that suppress great English and American literature while promoting lesser works that conform to their personal beliefs. It specifically mentioned a book called The Handmaid's Tale:

"Among the many third-rate books that English professors waste their students' time on (when they could be teaching truly great English literature) is... The Handmaid's Tale. The Handmaid's Tale is the quintessential expression of our intellectuals' fears about what a truly Christian culture would look like."

Dr. Kantor's book was prescient. My daughter was beginning college in a few weeks and I soon discovered that The Handmaid's Tale was required reading for all incoming freshmen. I read The Handmaid's Tale: it was a waste of time. (A review of the book is posted.) I looked over the syllabi of the freshmen English classes and discovered that much of the reading appeared chosen more to advance the political agendas of the teachers than to expose the students to the great writers of literature in the English language. Dr. Kantor was right.

Here is a list of the books for one freshmen English class at my daughter's college:
HANDMAID'S TALE
Author: ATWOOD (feminism, oppressiveness of Christianity, published 1986)
INTUITIONIST
Author: WHITEHEAD (racism, class differences, published 1999)
BLESSING THE BOATS
Author: CLIFTON (racism and feminism, published 2000)
PILLOWMAN
Author: MCDONAGH (Playwright specializes in "in your face theatre," whose purpose is to "...present the audience with vulgar, shocking and confrontational material on stage...
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