Wednesday, October 30, 2002


I am amazed that postmodernism in literary studies seems to have become a hot topic among Australian bloggers at the moment -- with Quiggin, Soon and others getting into it.

Postmodernism was not around when I was studying English at the University of Queensland in the �60s so I know it only secondhand but it does seem an awful lot of tosh to me. What I wonder, however, is whether or not it matters. Do literary studies matter?

Now before anyone points the skinger of forn at me over that question let me add that I myself have always been a pretty literary type: I read almost the entire Greek canon in my teens; I understand that I got the highest mark awarded for the poetry paper in English I -- out of about 1000 students; and I still know large slabs of Chaucer by heart -- in the original Middle English, of course.

But I have never seen my literary proclivities as any great virtue -- which is why I did not continue with literary studies but went into social science instead. To me literature is to be enjoyed not studied and if you do not enjoy it go and read The Phantom and good luck to you. The high moral tone of The Phantom would certainly leave most of French literature for dead, at least.

So the postmodernists would appear to be doing a good job of destroying literary studies but so what? Maybe I am on their side!! An amazing thought considering that postmodernism seems to have its origins on the extreme Left.


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