Elegy for a culture indeed.
"Western culture has become inaccessible to the general public because we
have lost the ability to see the world through the eyes of those who
"A generation ago, the literary critic Harold Bloom
complained in The Western Canon that it no longer was possible
to teach English literature to undergraduates because they lacked the
cultural references to make sense of it: imagine reading Moby Dick without knowing who Ishmael and Ahab were in the Bible, or Joyce’s Ulysses without knowing that someone named Homer had written an epic about a certain Odysseus"
"The last place where literature is read closely by a non-specialist
public might be the Orthodox Synagogue, where the Hebrew Bible is
examined through the eyes of ancient as well as medieval and modern
commentators. It is read not as literature but as family history, and
its readers have an existential interest in the result. The Hebrew
Bible, to be sure, is not all of literature, but it is the best of it (nothing
in Greek or Latin compares to the grandeur of Isaiah). Most of all, it
is the continuing concern of a living community which has read it
together for thousands of years."