Dennis Des Chene, a philosopher at Washington University, has a blog Philosophical Fortnights (note the admirable URL); a recent post made me very happy. First off, the cover of Marie Corelli’s novel attracts me as it did him:
On my way to Coleridge the other day I couldn’t help but notice the work whose front cover you see here. Could I resist? Of course not. It was that emdash between ‘love’ and ‘philosopher’. I have a soft spot for eccentric punctuation.
Then there’s the fact that the heroine of the book “is the daughter of a rich old man who with the Philosopher’s help is completing his lifework, The Deterioration of Language Invariably Perceived as a Precursor to the Decadence of Civilization.” And the icing on the cake is that Corelli’s own use of language is so dreadful:
Simply because even the million do not know “how” to read. Moreover, it is very difficult to make them learn. They have neither the skill nor the patience to study beautiful thoughts expressed in beautiful language. They want to “rush” something through. Whether poem, play or novel, it must be “rushed through” and done with. […] They have time for motoring, cycling, card-playing, racing, betting, hockey and golf,—anything in short which does not directly appeal to the intellectual faculties,—but for real reading, they can neither make leisure, nor acquire aptitude.
This vague, sieve-like quality of brain and general inability to comprehend or retain imprssions of character or events, which is becoming so common among modern so-called “readers” of books, can but make things very difficult for authors who seek to contribute something of their utmost and best to the world of literature.
Tu quoque, sweet Marie!