Literature, Poetry, and Books
As my first substantive post on NLT, I feel compelled to address a topic upon which I am decidedly unqualified to speak. Undaunted, however, I proceed - for the occasion to opine on classical literature arises far too infrequently. Several posts as of late (1, 2, 3) have commended the works of great authors. During my recent travels in the Middle East (a spiritual exercise in the cultivation of patience and fortitude), I took advantage of fully-expected itinerary delays to broaden my literary exposure. I followed Hemmingway with Austin, and Austin with the elder Brontë sister (often in audiobook format, of which I am a converted disciple). It was as though I were ascending ever higher in the hierarchy of angels in heaven.
Harold Bloom counts Charlotte Brontë among the authors of his Western Canon (though she is excluded from more conservative Great Books lists). Nonetheless, Jane Eyre vanquished my ridiculous opinion that fiction was of limited utility in the cultivation of a classical liberal education. Mrs. Brontë reminded me that great thinker - from Homer and Plato to the authors of both the Old and New Testaments - have always used fables, parables and fiction to render profound lessons of virtue and humanity in intelligible doses to the masses.
And, for those as affected as I by Mrs. Brontë's writings, Christie's in New York will hold an auction this Friday of "a manuscript of her verses estimated at $50,000-$70,000, and her eloquent letter to Henry Nussey, declining his proposal of marriage, estimated at $50,000-$70,000." From the letter: "I have no personal repugnance to the idea of a union with you -- but I feel convinced that mine is not the sort of disposition calculated to form the happiness of a man like you." Exquisite.
P.S. The Christie's auction will also feature a letter from George Washington to his nephew Bushrod Washington, in which he privately reveals his reasons for supporting the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, estimated to fetch up to $2,500,000.