||[Jul. 17th, 2004|07:16 am]
Way back while you were all still sleeping, I wrote the first requested slash fiction, a Holmes and Watson pairing (that you won't be able to read unless you have donated). One of the things that the requester said she wanted most of all was a sense of the language, that cool, formal style in which Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote, and which I think I did a reasonable job of capturing.
A lot of the reason I could do so is that I have read a fair sampling of that literature. I understand the voice, and the vocabulary.
I worry that people are no longer learning to appreciate the joy of a meaty read.
Don't get me wrong; I am a great fan of the Harry Potter books and other books of adventure and tales of excitement of recent vintage. But there is nothing challenging in the vocabulary of these books, nothing that draws attention to the power and beauty of the very words themselves. J.K. Rowling is a ripping storyteller and a clumsy wordsmith, relying on a plethora of adverbs to substitute for description. I cannot recall a single turn of phrase that I reread simply for the beauty of the words themselves. The books are long, and they are dense, but they are, nonetheless, easy reads.
And I fear that in making reading as accessible an entertainment as television, we risk raising children who will not voluntarily take on challenging reads.
This is not a matter of simply preferring "dead white guy literature." The broader ones expanse of vocabulary and ideas, the more one can think about. There is a direct corellation between vocabulary and intelligence, and it's not innate.
Language is poetry, and music, and imagery. It is not simply a tool for getting a story line from point A to point B. Authors of an earlier time digressed into philosophy, or moral lessons, and their readers followed. They played games with the words. We need more of that.