Friday, December 17, 2021

Cabell's View of American Literature

 So, here's a quote I found in further reading of the Cabell. It comes from a little fable he wrote parodying his experience of being the target of censorship. This view of American literature comes from the 1926 (post-censor challenge) edition of JURGEN.

I was pleased to see that the three figures Cabell singles out include both of my two favorite American authors.

Although it's deeply ironic that Cabell uses the term 'philistine' for point of view he deplores.

--John R.

Jurgen vs. The Philistines: 


'. . . we of Philistia have been pestered by three of these makers of literature. Yes, there was Edgar, whom I starved and hunted until I was tired of it: then I chased him up a back alley one night, and knocked out those annoying brains of his. And there was Walt, whom I chivvied and battered from place to place, and made a paralytic of him: and him, too, I labelled offensive and lewd and lascivious and indecent. Then later there was Mark, whom I frightened into disguising himself in a clown's suit, so that nobody might suspect him to be a maker of literature: indeed I frightened him so that he hid away the greater part of what he had made until after he was dead, and I could not get at him . . .  Still, these are the only three detected makers of literature that have ever infested Philistia, thanks be to goodness and my vigilance, but for both of which we might have been no more free from makers of literature than are the other countries.'


'Now, but these three,' cried Jurgen, 'are the glory of Philistia: and of all that Philistia has produced, it is these three alone, whom living you made least of, that to-day are honored wherever art is honored, and where nobody bothers one way or the other about Philistia.'


'What is art to me [?] . . . I have no concern with art and letters . . . '


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