Our cultural revolution (FT)

While I was appalled that the Weekend FT now costs £2.50, I’m a fan of Simon Schama, who had an expectantly excellent article on America’s historical love-hate relationship with central banks. But what provoked me to share with others was an article by Harry Eyres, “Our Cultural Revolution“.

Eyres argues that while the Enlightenment brought huge advances for sciences, its application towards language and literature is more dubious. For example, he says that much of 19th century Romantic literature in Britain, Germany and Russia consists of rewritings of Hamlet.

He doesn’t want any reactionary application of historical traditionalism, but Eyres makes the case that ignorant of the founding traditions of Greco-Roman thought, art and literature, and Judaeo-Christian religion and theology, “a young person will walk through the great gardens of our culture, the Uffizi or the Pardo or the National Gallery, the works of Dante, Shakespeare, Cervantes and Goethe, without being able to name any of the flowers.”

For me, this need not be exclusively Western oriented. Yet this Liberal Arts graduate strongly supports the value of having at least a familiarity with the customs and traditions that partly explain the world we live in, instead of just mindlessly going about our daily survival.

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