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"Robert E. Kibler" <[log in to unmask]>
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Robert E Kibler <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 26 Jan 1998 20:34:48 -0500
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On Mon, 26 Jan 1998 19:35:04 -0500 wrote...
A friend of mine at the University of Maryland wrote on a culture's ability to
anticipate its future, and looked at popular literary magazines over a ten year
period (I forget what period).  Virtually none of those touted as the next best
poet-painter-provacateur then, has their name recognizably etched in fame's old
oak tree today.  That seems to be the miraculous thing about living. Mostly no
way to predict what the next decade will bring, or carry over. Transport ten
years back--could the you then have predicted the circumstance of the you now?
Pound too seems to have been as shocked as anyone that he turned out to be a
bad guy, tied to riots in Arkansas, as A Schmitz points out. So many accounts
of him as egotistic, but also fun, nervous, good hearted, and shy.  Wyndham
Lewis paints him reclined, almost retreating, in chair. Custer was a hero for
seventy years, Ireland's Patrick a saint.  Who knows how any of them will be
received in the 21st century?  Any of us?  You gotta love it.
Robert Kibler asks me:
>> Are you suggesting that the intelligible reader of 1808 would rightly
>>find Pope stilted, and are you then wondering whether or not Pound will be
>>found stilted in ten years by our kids, as was Pope then?
>Answer: yes, though "rightly" is a relative term. Of course (will I be able
>to say "of course" in ten years?) I think Pound will last, just as Pope has
>lasted. But if I were to bet on literary history repeating itself, I'd
>--oh, say, the phenomenon of Wertherism. Discussing that term, _The Oxford
>Companion to Enbglish Literature_ says, "Goethe was later much embarrassed
>by this early work and by the assumption that it was autobiographical," and
>(if I recall Eckermann correctly) he tried to rationalize by appealing to
>good taste. At the beginning of the book, Goethe said, Werther was reading
>Homer; by the end, he was reading Ossian. Obviously the boy was going
>crazy. But in 1774, the date of _Die Leiden des jungen Werthers_, everybody
>in Europe who cared about poetry was reading Ossian.
>--or, if you want a lighter example, Mrs. Gaskell's _Cranford_ (1853).
>You'll recall that one of the characters in that novel is a set-in-her-ways
>old lady who can't see why anybody would waste their time reading Dickens
>when it's self-evident that the greatest novel ever written is _Rasselas_.
>I can visualize us in that position in a few years--or rather I can
>visualize us being thought to be in that position.
>Jonathan Morse
>Department of English
>University of Hawaii at Manoa
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Robert E. Kibler
Department of English
University of Minnesota
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                fortunatus et ille, deos qui novit agrestis,
                Panaque Silvanumque senem Nymphasque sorores.