Wordsworth's Speech On The Revisal Of The Literary Canon

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Greenblatt: Welcome, I assume you all came prepared to discuss the revisal of the literary canon. So lets jump right into it…

Wordsworth: well, I say out with the old and in with the new!

Johnson: Ha! Absurd… in with the simple, you mean? I did not spend seven years of my life constructing an English dictionary, for it could be wasted on the feelings of poets!

Wordsworth: Well how can you uncover the truth of human nature, when you disregard so many people that inhabit it? We, the romantics, extend our interests to a wider range of people… rather be simple, than limited!

Dryden: Simplicity should not be disregarded, as it refines the language and makes it easily recognizable. However, there is no necessity to write about feelings,
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Why disregard the classics, if from them we should learn! I mean, look at Dryden, “The father of English criticism” (Noggle, Lipking 961), whose satire has influenced us, the next generation of poets.

Wordsworth: Great, then Greenblatt should have no trouble editing, since all you Neoclassical have the same literary tastes and judgments. We could respect the literary past, but we bring forth innovation. Therefore, I hope more works of Coleridge are included, like The Suicide’s Argument, and in order to make this happen we should cut Pope’s work, because just like his stature his works don’t measure up. He focuses too much on the elevation of poetry, rather than be inspired by it, and that is not what true art is about!

Dryden: There is a thin line between innovation and just being plain preposterous. For instance, I brought modern literature to England during my lifetime, since I combined different cultures and classic literary traditions, and refined them. That is how something should be made new. We don’t need an Anthology, filled with poets wandering around nature contemplating their lives, nature or the lowly. Lets stop being personal, and maybe literature will have a chance, just look at how influential my political satires are, and will continue to
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Educate the people of what is going on within their nation…

Johnson: Yes, Yes. Great literature should be used to instruct, not to fill people’s heads with silly notions like resisting their place in the cosmic order.

Wordsworth: Enough with your stale ideologies already! Great literature is inspired, and resists the status quo. No one wants to read something that lacks imagination, and individualism. And if you needed instructions all you had to do was ask… take a stroll in a park some day, nature would do you and your work some good!

Johnson: Ha! How about you study the classics, and learn that imitation will always triumph over innovation. For instance, poetry imitates both human life and the classics, and that is what I bring forth in my writing. Just look at The Vanity of Human Wishes, an imitation of The Tenth Satire of Juvenal, a work that even Dryden translated. That is what great literature does it is molded by the classics.

Greenblatt: Hmm… You all bring forth valid points, however, it seems we might be here all day trying to define good

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