Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Be Not Afraid (to Read Great Books)

Spring is the time to plan, declutter, and read articles on homeschooling philosophy : ). Even though it snowed yesterday and FEELS like December around here, I know spring is just around the corner even up above the mile-high marker.

We bring Liam down to the Amtrak station this afternoon to return for his last month of college before his, yes, his GRADUATION! Right after he gets back to college, tomorrow in fact, he has to present his senior thesis defense so any prayers or good wishes for his success would be appreciated. His topic is upon the proper end of fiction/literature. The title is "Felt Life" from Henry James' introduction to Portrait of a Lady:

"There is, I think, no more nutritive or suggestive truth in this connexion than that of the perfect dependence of the 'moral' sense of a work of art on the amount of felt life concerned in producing it. The question comes back thus, obviously, to the kind and the degree of the artist's prime sensibility, which is the soil out of which his subject springs. The quality and capacity of that soil, its ability to "grow" with due freshness and straightness any vision of life, represents, strongly or weakly, the projected morality. That element is but another name for the more or less close connexion of the subject with some mark made on the intelligence, with some sincere experience."
Or as Flannery O'Connor wrote in an essay called "The Church and the Fiction Writer":

What the fiction writer will discover, if he discovers anything at all, is that he himself cannot move or mold reality in the interests of abstract truth. The writer learns, perhaps more quickly than the reader, to be humble in the face of what-is. What-is is all he has to do with; the concrete is his medium; and he will realize eventually that fiction can transcend its limitations only by staying within them. Henry James said that the morality of a piece of fiction depended on the amount of 'felt life' that was in it. The Catholic writer, in so far as he has the mind of the Church, will feel life from the standpoint of the central Christian mystery: that it has, for all its horror, been found by God to be worth dying for. But this should enlarge not narrow his field of vision.

Anyway, changing the subject but perhaps not altogether, here are three articles I just linked to on a Great Books Reading group I am on (designed for Kolbe Academy parents to read the jr high and high school books before their kids get to them). The articles are about reading difficult but rewarding literature, and continuing to learn and study through life -- basically on the theme "Be not afraid.. anything worthwhile you read with a sincere effort, you will get something out of" (There's something wrong with that sentence but I have to get off the computer so I will let it stand for now).

1 comment:

Susan said...

Praying that Liam does well!