Published on November 8, 2007
‘Canon’: ‘Canon’ & ‘Value’ ‘Canon’: ‘Canon’ Some definitions for "canon" that appear in the American Heritage Dictionary: an ecclesiastical law or code of laws established by a church council; a secular law, rule, or code of law; a basis for judgment, standard, criterion; the books of the Bible officially recognized by the Church; an authoritative list, as of the works of an author; Printing. a size of type, 48-point; a member of a religious community living under common rules and bound by vows. Detailed Etymology: Detailed Etymology canon (1) - "church law," Old English, from Latin, - "measuring line, rule”, from Latin, - "rule," from Greek kanon perhaps from kanna "reed”. The Greek word "kanon" means literally "straight rod", the instrument used for setting the standard of measurement. - Taken in ecclesiastical sense for "decree of the Church," and passed through Latin to Old English. Canonical is first attested early 15th century. canon (2) - "clergyman," c.1205, from Anglo-French. - from Latin, canonicus (adj.) “according to rule”. Studies : Studies The Western Canon by Harold Bloom. attempts to state what's worth reading and why. consists of essays on the 26 authors that Bloom considers central to Western literature. Bloom groups the works into four categories: The Theocratic Age, The Aristocratic Age, The Democratic Age, and The Chaotic Age. The Western Canon by Harold Bloom.: The Western Canon by Harold Bloom. According to Bloom, works listed in the first three groups have -through the test of time -achieved canonical status. Books in the fourth group have the potential to one day be included in the Western canon. The Western Canon: The Western Canon “ORIGINALLY THE CANON meant the choice of books in our teaching institutions, and despite the recent politics of multiculturalism, the Canon's true question remains: What shall the individual who still desires to read attempt to read, this late in history?” (13). The Western Canon / Quotations: The Western Canon / Quotations “Shakespeare is the Canon. He sets the standard and the limits of literature.” Shakespeare's genius is so overwhelming, in fact, that he "recenters" Western literature, says Bloom. The Western Canon / Quotations: The Western Canon / Quotations "We are destroying all intellectual and aesthetic standards in the humanities and social sciences, in the name of social justice." … "the worst of all times for literary criticism" … "To read in the service of any ideology is not...to read at all" … "Reading the very best writers--let us say Homer, Dante, Shakespeare, Tolstoy--is not going to make us better citizens." The Western Canon / Quotations: The Western Canon / Quotations Bloom denies a social purpose to literature and insists instead on reading as a "solitary" act: "I think that the self, in its quest to be free and solitary, ultimately reads with one aim only: to confront greatness. That confrontation scarcely masks the desire to join greatness, which is the basis of the aesthetic experience once called the Sublime: the quest for a transcendence of limits. Our common fate is age, sickness, death, oblivion. Our common hope, tenuous but persistent, is for some version of survival." Bloom’s Value in Great Literature is,: Bloom’s Value in Great Literature is, "strangeness, a mode of originality that either cannot be assimilated, or that so assimilates us that we cease to see it as strange." Bloom’s Literary Dream Team: Bloom’s Literary Dream Team Shakespeare, Dante, Chaucer, Cervantes, Montaigne, Moliere, Milton, Samuel Johnson, Goethe, Wordsworth, Austen, Whitman, Dickinson, Dickens, George Eliot, Tolstoy, Ibsen, Freud, Proust, Joyce, Woolf, Kafka, Borges, Neruda, Pessoa, Beckett. The Western Canon: The Western Canon “The Western Canon, is anything but a unity or a stable structure. No one has the authority to tell us what the Western Canon is....It is not, cannot be, precisely the list I give, or that anyone else might give.” (There are, in other words, as many canons as there are readers.) Value & Canonicity: Value & Canonicity aesthetic value beauty standard of taste Is there objective understanding of universal aesthetic values? Value & Canonicity: Value & Canonicity Hume’s Standard of Taste Literary works are valuable because they give us pleasure. Subjective understanding and evaluation of a particular work. Value & Canonicity: Value & Canonicity Nietzche’s Approach: A work is valuable if we are deeply affected by it. Taste is educable: a widely-read person is more likely to differentiate between valuable works. Value & Canonicity: Value & Canonicity “..the critic must serve as an arbiter of value, for ‘the arts are our storehouse of recorded values.” (I.A. Richards). Works Consulted & Further Reading: Works Consulted & Further Reading Bloom, Harold, The Western Canon. Etymology Dictionary <http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=canon>. Hume, David, “Of the Standard of Taste”. Essays, Moral, Political and Literary. Liberty Fund Inc, 1987. Moran, Berna, Edebiyat Kuramları ve Eleştiri. İletişim, 2005. Richards, I. A., Principles of Literary Criticism. Waugh, Patricia, “Value, Criticism, Canons and Evaluation”. Literary Theory and Criticism.