Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Literature as National Consensus

For years I regularly haunted used bookstores and book sales. I generally looked in the fiction and poetry sections, but for quite some time I bought books of speeches, speech textbooks, and books about rhetoric and oral communication. This has to do with the fact that for a long time, speech writing was a significant part of my career.

If you visit used bookstores and especially sales of old books, you will inevitably find old textbooks. I found the textbook I had in my senior English class in high school (longer ago than I care to think) and I immediately plunked down a dollar to buy it.

Another textbook find was the 1940 edition of Prose and Poetry of America, originally published in 1934 and edited by H. Ward McGraw. My find was what two additional editors, Julian Maline and William McGucken, described in the preface as the Catholic edition. They were both Jesuit priests, and found in McGraw’s textbook the basis for creating a version for Catholic schools. From the looks of things, they kept most of what McGraw had included, adding only a few additional writers. (They even commended McGraw for being particularly careful to avoid offenses to Catholic students.)

To continue reading, please see my post today at The Master’s Artist.

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