Monday, April 28, 2008

Brief Lives

The news that a Harry Potter book may be a study item for exams in the UK is, perhaps, a dumbledore down too far.
With all the vast and varied range of fine books that have been written in the English language, to have selected a popular but not especially distinguished work, is an example of muddled thinking on the part of those in charge of edukayshun.
The argument is that the book will be easy to read and thus encourage the student to read more. Probably it will – another Harry Potter book to swell the coffers of Bloomsbury and Rowling.
But the whole point of such reading assignments is surely to broaden the literary horizon of the student.
However, things could be worse. They could have made it John Prescott’s biography.
But hang on a minute. Isn’t a biography a history of a life? The Oxford Dictionary says it is.
But it seems that dear old John, whilst recounting his eating habits in great detail, has seen fit to exclude the part of his life that was really the only one of much interest to the outside world. No, not the croquet playing bit, you know – the other.
It’s like writing a history of the twentieth century and forgetting to mention the world wars.
No doubt this example will encourage many other public figures to rush into print, now they see that honesty is no longer a sine qua non for their life stories.
Oh dear!


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