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Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Few Concluding Thoughts About The Western Canon

Pictured: all the translated books in the canon that are speculative fiction.
Good riddance!
Good evening.  I'm Guy Goodman St.White your bloody British sounding host, and tonight, I want to do something a little different.  We're saying farewell to the translated works of the Western Canon to focus exclusively on important British literature and eventually even some of that Yank stuff.  However, I thought a few parting thoughts on the non-English Western Canon might be in order.

Oh who am I kidding? Chris keeps coming in here and changing his mind about whether I should do a segment praising Cervantes for his ruthless dedication to expunging speculative elements or if I should just take the whole day off.  The worst part is, he keeps changing his clothes back and forth and acting like he didn't say the last thing and has no knowledge of what he said while wearing the other outfit.  He's pretending that there's two of him--as if that isn't the most overdone cliche in all of literature!

Anyway, finally he said something about just doing whatever the hell I wanted and he couldn't go on living in the shadow and something like "that guy has everything that's mine."  By that point, he'd wasted enough of my time that a thoughtful review was out of the question.  Thus, I am simply going to  say a few last words about the translated Canon of Western literature.

I've done a review of Beowulf, Judith, The Iliad, The Odyssey (with Lady Felicity's help), Plato, and The Divine Comedy.  Frankly even if I hadn't been downsized from a segment a week to this...once a month shenanigans, I could do this for years.  There is simply so much speculative tripe in the canon that at some point, it becomes an exercise in simple recognition.  Gods, ghosts, magic, demons, the afterlife, talking animals, fairies, dragons, minotaurs, Fenris, Medusa, Grendel and more.  There is high fantasy, low fantasy, utopian fiction, distopian fiction, and even conjecture about the future that would easily be considered science fiction by today's parlance.  For all the praise the canon gets, it is akin to an all-you-can-eat buffet of unrealism and the readers of the world brought their extra stretchy pants.  As if any of these hacks could say something meaningful about the human condition so far divorced from the gritty truth that marks real literature.

However, with all that said, it was never my intention to point out every failed attempt at true writing the canon has to offer.  I picked a few of the most well known pieces of flotsam with some of the most dramatic examples of speculative excreta.  At this point you have certainly gotten the point that the canon is filled with the kind of fiction that every real literary connoisseur knows is simply bad writing.  We shall now turn our attention fully to works done in English.  And believe me, there are many.  Resting like it does, on a bedrock of unrealistic precedent, English literature delves time and again into failed attempts at being meaningful or poignant by succumbing to the siren song of speculative tripe.

So please join me next month when we stop reading the works of less civilized cultures, and start reading exclusively English canon works.  All on the next episode of Speculative Fiction Sucks Balls--and Not in the Good Way.  I'm Guy Goodman St.White.  Good night.

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