Thursday, September 15, 2005

So the Williams essay was about what?? I can't say I understood more than five sentences in the whole thing and I actually fell asleep the first time I tried to read it. I think the main gist of it was that culture and society changes, and with these changes comes changes to the canon and all literature. Other than that, I was completely lost.
Mary Shelley's letters, however, were the best thing I have read so far this semester. I just think it's amazing to read the personal words of someone from so long ago - the words to the friends they held dearest. You can get no closer look at the society of the time than through such letters, because they are unbiased in that they were never intended to be published.
In relation to the Williams essay, Shelley obviously went through a lot of changes over the course of the published letters. In the first letters to Percy Shelley she sounds so ridiculously in love you think she might explode. She misses him every second he is gone and is not afraid to admit it. Then we get to read the saddest letter ever. I was really moved reading this because it is hard to relate to anyone famous as having a personal tragedy, because you always think they are untouchable. But poor Mary Shelley lost her husband, her love, her life. I wanted to just go give her a hug and tell her everything would be ok.
I don't really know how to apply any critical lens to this since it is not a "work" officially. In fact I think it might be a little too much to try and criticize someone's personal letters. I don't think she ever said as she was writing the letters, "what would a ____ critic think of this?" All she did was right what her heart felt, and how can that be so analyzed?

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Levine's argument seems much more academically based than Bloom's, which was mostly opinion. Levine cites other scholars who have analyzed the canon, students, universities, etc. Bloom pretty much just vented about everything he thinks is wrong with American education. As far as New Criticism goes, I guess Levine would be closer to the thought than Bloom. Bloom doesn't seem to be interested in what books of the classical canon have to say, just that he was taught they were the ones to read. Levine does not completely accept the New Criticism views either, but he seems to have a much more open mind about what texts deserve a closer examination on the academic level.
Levine shows how the canon of American literature has changed since its creation. At points it included all races of peoples in the US and at others was highly exclusive. He shows evidence that canons do and have always changed with the culture of the American people. And with so many different cultures living together under the same roof of America, how can anyone close their mind to the idea of a new canon? Levine discusses how America is not as much a melting pot as it has been referred to because all the races tend to have that feeling of being outsiders, of being part of something other than the American race.
I noticed several instances in which Levine uses the word "culture". In context with Bloom, it made me realize that Bloom was desperate to try and change our culture back to its motherlands. Levine also used "change" multiple times in the chapters, and I think that's what it all boils down to: Who is afraid of change and who isn't? Is change good? Of course it is hard to be completely for either side in all circumstances, but I think it is best not to be afraid of change but to embrace it. Culture and the American mind will change; there's nothing anyone can do about it. So why get so caught up in the past that you lose touch with the future?

Thursday, September 01, 2005

I just read Samantha's blog and I totally agree. I'd love to see how Bloom would react to Mary Shelley. She is everything he stood against; feminist, a female writer, etc. The thing that is different about Shelley is that she wasn't some self-righteous know-it-all like Bloom is. He thinks he knows everything about everything and has the answers for all the world's problems. Basically, it's his way or the highway! While Shelley did write about issues she had, she didn't claim to have all the answers.
Bloom's probably one of those critics who still believes "Frankenstein" was written by a man, or at least dictated to Mary Shelley by her husband, Percy. Even if the proof stared him in the face I'm sure he'd refuse to believe it. While I don't think Bloom is a horrible man, he does make some generalizations based on opinion, not fact, and that is what bothers me. He's also very judgemental and stereotypical. Basically, he's the last person who should be writing about others! His bias is out of control! A good writer takes both sides into account, not just his/her own.
Shelley's "Frankenstein" is written from a more indifferent perspective; an outsider looking in, while Bloom's book seems more to me like a lament you'd find written in the Middle Ages. While I can understand his desire to create this "perfect world" of learning, it's just not possible. No one and no thing is perfect and to strive for that is just a waste of time.