Politically Incorrect Guide to English Literature

Kantor, Elizabeth. The Politically Incorrect Guide to English and American Literature. Washington, D.C.: Regnery, 2006.

While Kantor provides good analyses of Shakespeare and others, the book’s key strengths, like all the books in the P.I.G. series, lie in its structure: books you should read, concepts “they” (e.g., Deep State Marxists) don’t want you to know, etc.

On Shakespeare

“Shakespeare celebrates the limits that define us” (77). Shakespeare, unlike postmoderns, believes in “nature.”

Sonnets.  If we can wax ironic and use postmodern categories, the Sonnets are the dark “Other” to the comedies. Sex is very dangerous when handled outside of its proper boundaries. Some notes on the structure: In Italian sonnets there is a “turn” between the octave and sestet.

The Seventeenth Century

John Donne.  

John Milton. “Temptation is the theme of Milton’s poetry” (93).  “Milton’s heroic ideal” is patient obedience

2oth Century, including American Literature

Good section on Oscar Wilde and his decadent friends.  “Aestheticism” meant art for art’s sake; there is no outside meaning.  If we apply this to ourselves, and see our life as art, then we don’t have meaning, either.  

Kantor captured the essence of the South perfectly.  You can’t escape original sin by programs and agendas and trying to be Woke.  Similarly, a flawed culture like the South is superior to no culture at all. With that said, I normally dislike stories by O’Connor and Faulkner.  I just can’t take Steam-of-Consciousness seriously. 

Do it Yourself

Reed’s Rule.  When reading a poem, sometimes ask yourself, “Why is this word, and no other, in this place, and no other place” (218)? 

It is more important to know terms like “Iambic pentameter,” “epic simile,” and Spenserian stanza, not “binaries,” “reception history,” and “imaginary” (as a noun) (222).

Books They Don’t Want You To Read

Lewis, C. S. Allegory of Love.
Stark, Rodney. Victory of Reason.
Pearce, Joseph. The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde.
Kimball, Roger. Tenured Radicals.
Horowitz, David. The Professors.

At War with the Word: Literary Theory and Liberal Education , by R. V. Young, Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 1999.
Literature Lost: Social Agendas and the Corruption of the Humanities , by John M. Ellis, Yale University Press, 1999.
The Abolition of Man by C. S. Lewis, Harper SanFrancisco, 2001.
A Student’s Guide to Literature , by R. V. Young, Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000.
The Trivium: The Liberal Arts of Logic, Grammar, and Rhetoric: Understanding the Nature and Function of Language by Miriam Joseph Rauh, Paul Dry, 2002.

Books You Shouldn’t Miss

Medieval Literature

Chaucer, Canterbury Tales.

Langland, Piers Plowman

Gawain and the Green Knight

Malory, Morte d’Arthur

Renaissance Literature

Spenser, Edmund. Faerie Queene.

Sidney, Philip. Defense of Poesy.

Shakespeare, everything.

Seventeenth Century

John Donne, Songs and Sonnets, Holy Sonnets

Herbert, George. The Temple

Bunyan, John. Pilgrim’s Progress.

Milton, John. Paradise Lost.

Restoration and Eighteenth Century

Dryden, John.  Absalom and Achitophel

Pope, Alexander. Rape of the Lock

Swift, Jonathan. Gulliver’s travels.

Johnson, Samuel. Preface to Shakespeare

A Mini Course in American Literature

While American literature can never compete with English literature, she does offer a good course in it.  Read the following:

O’Connor: “Everything that Rises Must Converge”

Faulkner: “Barn Burning”
Poe: “Cask of Amontillado”
Hemingway: “Big Two-Hearted River”
Hawthorne: “Young Goodman Brown”
Dickinson: “The Soul Selects Her Own Society”
Whitman: “A Noiseless Patient Spider”
Frost: “Nothing Gold Can Stay”
Pound: “In Station of the Metro”


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