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The Amazon Book Review
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It may seem strange to recommend as essential modern reading a book that consists of a series of lectures on English Literature delivered in 1916. Arthur Qullier-Couch, or "Q" as he became known as an author of short stories, had recently been appointed Professor of English Literature at Cambridge University, England: and these lectures are a statement of his beliefs about knowledge. Knowledge, as distinct from information. I suspect that the recent discoveries about how the brain develops (Matt Ridley's Nature via Nurture is a good text) will lead to an increasing emphasis in the next fifty years upon knowledge rather than information. At the beginning of the 21st Century our focus is exclusively upon information and communication. Our education system is geared not to gives us facts, but to teach us how to discover facts when we need them. Many social consequences parallel this: not least the rise of feminism, it being very probably true that women are better at communication than men. Quiller-Couch's thesis is the reverse of our universal present-day mindset. He argues (and I paraphrase grossly) that information is not only irrelevant, but that too much information can be at best distracting, and at worst, dangerous. The esssential features of human character - the battle between good and evil, of self and others - has remained unchanged throughout recorded history. Each person since the human race began has to resolve, or fail to resolve, this battle for themselves. The most gifted have been able to write about it, or compose music, or paint pictures of it. The very greatest of these works of art have a universal application: that is, the human context applies to anyone living in any age - Hamlet is not just about a medieval Dane.Read more ›
This is one of two books by Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch used by Helene Hanff as the foundation of her education as a writer. Many people educate themselves who cannot afford education by reading all they can. My mother did not finish the eighth grade but knew more about American History and literature than most college kids today because she had a solid foundation of learning from an old fashioned teacher in a one room school house and a lifelong practice of reading.
Many may find this book dated and no doubt boring if possessed by a mind incurious of the literature of their country's language. However, there is no substitute for the motivation provided by a master of the language.
There really is no other books you can find that teaches reading for the pleasures and the knowledge that it gives anymore. Perhaps to teach the meanings there are still some but mostly reading books are for those learning to read for the first time. Imagine my surprise when the author is as good a writer as those he talks about in this book. I very much like to know if he has written other books, I know I will enjoy reading them as much as I did this one. Thank you very much.
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