Monday, July 10, 2006

Letter to the Editor: 'Literary Losers'

I fired off the letter below to the Wall Street Journal in answer to an article on Friday that described the dumbing down of grade-school summer reading lists.


Your July 7th “Literary Losers” in Review & Outlook makes the trenchant point that the kinds of lack-luster fiction being foisted on hapless students is uninspiring and mediocre, and unlikely to encourage reading either in class or over the summer. This is tragic, for without the examples of integrity and heroism made real though great romantic literature, what guideposts will inspire our children toward greatness? After all, no video game could ever hope to compete with the themes of independence as portrayed in Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead,” or of justice as portrayed in Terence Rattigan’s “The Winslow Boy,” yet for too many of our youth, video games will be all they ever see.

That why I’m heartened to see the growing success of Edward Cline’s “Sparrowhawk” series of novels (and not surprised that Cline has yet to be noticed by a virtue-deaf literary and critical establishment). Cline sets his series in England and Virginia in the decades immediately preceding the American Revolution and features heroes, introduced as young boys who mature into men passionate about their freedom and the principles behind it. Filling a gap in literature that seriously treats and brings to life the pre-Revolutionary period, Cline recreates the culture and politics of that time in an epic that entertains, inspires, and educates. And with a reading age range between eight and eighty, Cline’s “Sparrowhawk” series is starting to be found in classes spanning middle school to the university, as well as among parents who are home-schooling their children.

And I can’t help but notice, these people who put Cline’s and other great authors’ works in front of their children are a new breed of rebels, defying an educational establishment that expects so little from our children and offers them no challenge worth meeting. It certainly will be interesting to see how this revolution spreads and observe the character of those who resist it.


Nicholas Provenzo
The Center for the Advancement of Capitalism
I believe that Edward Cline's achievement is going to have to be fought for. If you value his work, I encourage you to do the same.

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