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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Canon / Federico García Márquez

It was a revelation to my students that most non-canonical works are not written by women or working class people, or racial minorities. Most of the non-canon is simply not canonical for no particularly socially or politically relevant reason. To study the non-canon, in fact, you have to make an argument for the value or interest of the material, usually on social, political, or "cultural" grounds.

It is hard to make an argument for Cozzens or Auchincloss, or Anthony Powell. It's not sexy like mass culture is (Madonna in her day). The "mid-list" is non-canonical because it is neither high prestige high modern stuff, or subversive counter-culture, or trendy in any way.

***

It struck me that the duende is the same as "magical realism." In other words, the key to Hispanic Culture for the English Department. We might make the composite figure Federico García Márquez or Gabriel García Lorca to explain this convergence. (I was reading Sylvia Molloy's article in Moraña's Ideologies of Hispanism).

5 comments:

Vance Maverick said...

I think you're saying that since

To study the non-canon, in fact, you have to make an argument for the value or interest of the material, usually on social, political, or "cultural" grounds.

it comes to seem that those grounds account for its non-canonicity.

The argument for Anthony Powell sounds like something I should undertake -- along the lines of Schoenberg's "Brahms the Progressive", perhaps.

Jonathan said...

Right. And you can only question the canon itself on political grounds, like Milton was sexist. That makes it seem that Milton is canonical because he was a man, and makes us forget about the mute inglorious Miltons.

Though the mute inglorious Miltons are mute because they are illiterate and buried in a country schoolyard.

Vance Maverick said...

Are you mixing up the Elegy with the Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College? ;-) In any case, your very allusion should make clear the conservative tendency of this line of thought. Not that I think you're afraid of that, or that that makes it wrong.

Jonathan said...

I'm more concerned for the moment with the misapprehension of the traditional canon debate, which frames things deceptively The Gray reference comes from a chapter of Guillory's Cultural Capital.

I am kind of conservative on this issue, in a way. I'll have more to say on this later.

profacero said...

Duende, Lord it is true. (I think it was Hugo Achúgar who at one point refused to allow anyone from English to study magical realism, or anyone from Spanish to specialize in the country they were from. Prophylactic measures against all kinds of essentializing.)