We’ve been running this blog now for two years. When we posted our first literary blog post, on 1 December 2012, we set out to publish a short post every day, or almost every day. To mark the second birthday of InterestingLiterature, we would like to present ‘The Advent Calendar of Literature’. Every day for the next 24 days, leading up to, and including, Christmas Eve, we’re going to publish a short post about some interesting fact relating to literature and Christmas. That’s 24 facts, or one for every month that this blog has been going. These are our favourite festive facts that we’ve uncovered over the last couple of years.
But not only that: each fact will be linked, so that tomorrow’s Christmas literature fact will pick up on today’s, and the one we post on 3 December will follow tomorrow’s, and so on, right to…
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What is wrong with our society today? No one is learning the classics anymore. Instead they are studying “common core.” All art is based on that which came before, and a knowledge of the classics is essential to creating good art. Look at how many wonderful modern shows are based on classics: O Brother, Where Art Thou? is based on The Odyssey of Homer, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is based on the Rape of the Sabine Women, and West Side Story is based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
Not that one can’t appreciate these shows without knowing the works on which they were based. However, one gets a much greater appreciation of them when one does understand the references to these classics.
Literature and theatre are not the only “classics” needed to fully appreciate modern art. Visual art and music are just as important to the appreciation of the art works of today.
Why does it even matter if we understand art? What is life without art? It is merely eating and sleeping and working and dying. As the old adage goes, “Man does not live by bread alone.”
Let’s all advocate for a return of the study of the classics, including Latin and Greek, to our schools’ curriculums. We’ll all be richer people for it.
David Gilmour of Pink Floyd interprets Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.
In a summer’s night I take my flight,
To where the maidens repose;
And while they are slumbering sweet and sound,
I bite them on the nose.
The warm red blood that tints their cheeks
To me is precious dear,
For ‘tis my delight to buzz and bite
At this season of the year.
On the chamber wall about I crawl,
Till the landlord goes to bed;
Then my bugle I blow, and down I go,
To light upon his head.
Oh, I love to see the fellow slap,
And I laugh to hear him swear;
For ‘tis my delight to buzz and bite
In this season of the year.
From Peter Parley’s Thousand & One Stories of Fact & Fancy, Wit & Humor, Rhyme, Reason, & Romance, Illustrated by Three Hundred Engravings. New York: Derby & Jackson, 1859.
‘I can’t believe THAT!’ said Alice.
‘Can’t you?’ the Queen said in a pitying tone. ‘Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.’
Alice laughed. ‘There’s no use trying,’ she said: ‘one CAN’T believe impossible things.’
‘I daresay you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast. There goes the shawl again!’