Posts by tag: Randall Jarrell

The tyranny of taste

Randall referred at length to Ernest van den Haag’s book The Fabric of Society […] and quoted Santayana’s words, ‘It is worth living in the twentieth century to get to read Proust.’ Then he asked, ‘Is it worth it to get to read Peyton Place? We ought to say what we know. It’s better to read Proust or Frost or Faulkner… better in every way: and we ought to do all we can to make it possible for everybody to know this from personal experience. When we make people satisfied to have read Peyton Place and satisfied not to have read Swann’s Way we are enemies of our culture… and Jefferson and Franklin and Adams would look at us not with puzzled respect but with disgust and despair.’ – on Randall Jarrell’s address at the National Book Award ceremony

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