Homer v. chick lit

Editorial note: If you have not yet read our mission statement above, please do so in order that you can put our blogs in context. 

9 January 2013


“Let us consider…how differently young and old are affected by the words of some classic author, such as Homer or Horace. Passages, which to a boy are but rhetorical common-places, neither better nor worse than a hundred others which any clever writer might supply, which he gets by heart and thinks very fine, and imitates, as he thinks, successfully, in his own flowing versification, at length come home to him, when long years have passed, and he has had experience of life, and pierce him, as if he had never known them, with their sad earnestness and vivid exactness. Then he comes to understand how it is that lines, the birth of some chance morning or evening at an Ionian festival, or among the Sabine hills, have lasted generation after generation, for thousands of years, with a power over the mind, and a charm, which the current literature of his own day, with all its obvious advantages, is utterly unable to rival…….”

Extract from “An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent”, the magnum opus of Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801-1890), completed in 1870, as reproduced on page 655 of “The Oxford Book of English Prose” edited by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch (1863-1944) and published by the Clarendon Press in 1926.


Words as valid today, in our view (feel free to differ), as when the venerable Cardinal penned them in 1870. Homer v. chick lit? No contest.

However, being naturally both impious and sceptical, we wonder whether the eminent Victorian Cardinal Newman had ever ventured into the Sabine hills or, even more unlikely, had tripped the light fantastic at some Dionysian dance during an Ionian festival?

Mind you, if he had done so, we are sure, it would merely have confirmed his convictions.


 You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts.  For instance:

1. Why? or How? That is the question (3 Jan 2012)

2. Partitocracy v. Democracy (20 July 2012)

3. The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices (2 Feb 2012)

4. Capitalism in practice  (4 July 2012) 

5.Ladder  (21 June 2012)

 6. A tale of two cities (1)  (6 June 2012)

 7. A tale of two cities (2)  (7 June 2012)

 8. Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat (31 Jan 2012)

Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.


This entry was posted in Literature and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s