So Much Great Literature Goes Unread

May 20th, 2011 by Michael Tabor

Now more than ever, because people DON’T read as much as they used to, there is a prodigious trove of great literature that goes unread.
Last year I received as a gift – a hefty book – one of those “1001 things you must do before you die”series that are so popular today but this was entitled ‘1001 Books you must Read Before you Die”. To my great surprise this was a collection of truly magnificent literature from Aesop’s Fables to Moby Dick to Don Delillo’s Underworld, Ian McEwan, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Paul Auster and so much more. I was expecting to see Harry Potter , Danielle Steele, Tom Clancy, Deen Koontz, John Grisham, James Patterson, Mary Higgins Clark, Anne Rice, Harold Robbins, and Stephan King (poor Mr. King,  I heard that he doesn’t like the fact that the literary critics don’t see him as a gentleman of letters. Too bad, he just must accept his limitations and count his money; one cannot even find SK in the fiction section, let alone literature. He’s in the horror section right next to adult animation – comic books) No this was the real thing. When you looked at the 3 dozen or so contributors, you could see that they were all literary critics with Ph.Ds.
Every one of my favorites was in here but there were so many geniuses I’ve never read like E.L. Doctorow, T. Coraghessan Boyle and 100s more. I suddenly thought of myself of one who rather instead of being well-read but well quite frankly – ignorant. Everyone knows that great literature is so much more important than non-fiction. Literature like great classical music lasts forever and their words will forever be etched into our collective consciousness to be handed down from  generations to come until the end of time. In terms of what art form leaves the longest, strongest, most influential, most resonant, and most powerful legacy – the power of great literature is the best. Artists and composers may differ with me but I say the written word if it is true, will remain true forever and the eternal truths it teaches us can and must only be conveyed via fiction.
So that you get the right book, it’s – 1001 books You Must Read Before You Die, edited by Peter Boxall and the text is written by scores of literary critics. I read a lot and I used to read more (yes I read when I’m driving – at lights or when there’s traffic.) Now if I’m awake – I’m reading, writing or watching film. I also have been watching a lot of C-SPAN – 1,2 and 3. I used to only watch C-SPAN 2 for Book TV but all 3 channels are great. They have intellectual talk shows with no commercials everyday – not just congress in action (even I get bored with that).
The point is there is so much great literature and great information (and sadly a whole lot of s**t but you can just ignore that stuff) out there that one can’t get to it all, especially if you have kids. I’m a book worm and I feel that I need another 50 years to get through this amazing list. Plus I do read non-fiction, the paper, and The New Yorker every day.
It saddens me that a majority of these amazing books are going to go unread; but it does make me feel good that the great will be around for future generations. Greatness lasts forever. Sure Deen Koontz and the like are best sellers now but they will be gone in 100 YEARS AND David Foster Wallace will still be with us RIP.
I’ve said this a million times and I will say it again- ‘Life is short and art is long’ I am poor in terms of money but I’m the richest man on the planet when I allow Marcel Proust into my life.
You know the deal – hover, click and shop away. Perhaps you can purchase this book if wish.  I am personally hooked on this book. For the past week, I haven’t gone anywhere without it. Even if you don’t read the actual books listed in here, the reviews are wonderful. So much greatness, so little time.

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One Response to “So Much Great Literature Goes Unread”

  1. application Says:

    Es el tema simplemente incomparable:)

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