Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Three Wise Men of the Dianaic Age

Let's face it, nobody would read George Eliot if she weren't a woman named George, nobody would ever read Jane Austen if she weren't Required, and nobody reads Dickens when they can watch five or six recent flavors of A Christmas Carol on television. Mercifully, thankfully, 99.9% of the English speaking world is clueless about Dame Edith Sitwell, and if claws scuttle across anybody's silent floors, it is only in the abyssal brains of a few shell-shocked English majors stunned by the Dianaic Age.

For all that, reading is not dead. The Three Wise Men of recent English literature are J. R. R. Tolkien, Terry Pratchett and J. K. Rowling. Nobody from the Ivy Leeks even comes close.

Of course, prophetic utterance like this requires neither proof nor elaboration, so I simply invite you to check back in 100 years and see who's still reading who*. But the proximate cause of this little whoop was my concluding weekend, in which I read Pratchett's Tiffany Aching series (trilogic in form, so far; I invite you to Google your own self, and by all means buy from to get the gnarly book covers — goes for Rowling, too.) Great literature is read first without reverence, but a second reading of much Pratchett places him among the finest (and sneakiest) moralists of the modern age.

This includes the 0.0000166 percent of web-bound immoderati who are even marginally aware of Dory Dockertoe.

*Aaaaauuuuuuummmmmmmm... — Swami Prabhavananda
 Aaaaauuuuuuuuuu... — Hermione Granger

A third reading makes you wonder why he cast a streetwalkin' floozy yclept (*ahem*) "Tiffany Aching" in the role of a 13 year old witch, but, hey...! If Henri-Georges Clouzot can cast his randy old lady opposite Yves Montand (Le salaire de la peur, 1953) as a fun-loving heart of gold 40-year-old loli named "Linda," why not?

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