Monday, March 10, 2008

Virile Literature

Old books are fun. You never know what gem you might find in what appears to be the most unlikely candidate. So it is always worthwhile taking a look. For example, I recently found a 1917 volume titled, Public School Methods, vol. 4. The title did not sound very promising, but I discovered that the volume is fascinating. About half of the book is taken up with a discussion of the value and importance of reading. It is very interesting to see how vastly different ideas were 90 years ago.
One section was titled “Virile Literature,” and I thought it was excellent. Here is the bulk of it:
“There is a tendency among boys and some grown people to look upon literature, especially upon poetry, as sentimental, and upon a love for it as effeminate. There is no possibility of such a feeling in the mind of a person who has been properly trained. … There is plenty of manliness in literature and abundant examples for reading which will require all the force of a trained intellect to comprehend. We must do nothing to destroy the virility of reading, but must make it not only the instrument of study but also a means of culture. The wise teacher sees that her classes have a great variety of matter and often leads them into selections that stir the young blood of the manliest boys among her pupils. While there may be fine phrases and elegant structure in such pieces, she encourages the reader to feel the glow of heroism or to warm their souls in the fire of patriotism.”
Indeed. Well put! That is what we aspire to.

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At 6:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

completely off topic...

Hello Ray!
I just scanned through your archives looking for a children's book on Isaac Newton, but I didn't see anything.

I know that Joyce McPherson has written one titled "Ocean of Truth", and I noticed that your family has read a couple of her bios (Calvin, Pascal). By any chance, have you read Newton's and just not reviewed it? Or have you read or heard of any other Newton bio that would be appropriate for 10/7 yo boys?

Jetta Rast Seboly

At 9:04 AM, Blogger Ray Van Neste said...

Hey Jetta!
We have the Isaac Newton book by McPherson, but have only dipped into it. I ended up deciding not to read it at this time because we had several otehr books to read in that time period and her other books were not all that compelling. I expect this one would be like the others where it was a worthwhile read, but a bit slow-going since it was not all that engaging.
I don't know of another book on Newton.
There is certainly room for someone to write some good historical biographies for children.

At 5:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, Ray!

I plan to read her Calvin bio out loud in a couple of weeks...if we can make our way through it, I might try the Newton one. Newton is important enough to me!

And you are right...we desperately need better bios for children. Why don't you start working on that? I'm sure you could fit it in to your schedule! :-)!



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