Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Canon fire

"In the judging of works of art the reader's, spectator's, auditor's 'mood' is at best irrelevant, at worst a gross intrusion. The greatest tribute one can pay to a fine work of art - a tribute that one ought to be able to take for granted - is that its qualities reveal one's own 'mood' to be redundant. [...] There is little to be gained in arguing questions of eligibility for, or exclusion from, a century's canon. The fact that the idea of of such a canon is prevalent, however, requires acknowledgement, because prescription and proscription are agents and effects of power. [...] There must surely be more than one canon at any given time: a canon of general acceptance and a canon of intrinsic value. General acceptance presupposes general acceptability. Intrinsic value need not be generally acceptable. I see no reason in theory, however, to prevent a work from taking its rightful place in both canons."

- Geoffrey Hill, on the exclusion of Isaac Rosenberg from Laurence Binyon's 1924 Golden Treasury of Modern Lyrics, published 2 years after Rosenberg's Poems.

No comments: