The Politically Incorrect Guide to English and American Literature, by Elizabeth Kantor ***
As I state elsewhere, few things make me feel as defiled as the post-modern take on literature. English departments throughout the United States have abandoned the classical canon for contemporary claptrap. Shakespeare has been replaced by “Betty the Yeti”, Milton and Spenser by Pound, and Austen by Atwood. True analysis and education have been replaced by politically correct Marxist/feminist/queer literary theory. Arriving none to soon to help save the day we have Elizabeth Kantor’s “Politically Incorrect Guide to English and American literature”.
Dr. Kantor is a breath of fresh air in the atmosphere of the contemporary university that has been polluted by PC thought. Dr. Kantor’s book is an indispensable guide to the rich legacy of literature we have inherited, but most of us do not know. She begins with the oldest poem in the English language, Beowulf, and leads us on up to the 20th century, stopping along the way to examine the greatest works the English language has produced. The survey includes Piers Plowman, The Canterbury Tales, Shakespeare, Donne, Milton, the metaphysical poets, Swift, the romantic poets, Austen, Flannery O’Connor…you name it, she covers it.
Dr. Kantor examines each work, helping the reader to understand what the book, play, or poem would have meant to the original audiences, and what the meaning can teach us now. Given the breadth of the subject, it would be impossible for her to offer a deep analysis of every author and literary work. What she provides, though, is invaluable, for as she systematically teaches the reader what these books say, she deconstructs what the modern, politically correct establishment wants them to say. In the clear light of Dr. Kantor’s presentation, and that of the works themselves, the theories and arguments of political correctness are revealed for the shabby imposters that they are. If you have time to read only one book to help you understand what the canon of Western literature is, this is it.