Primary Blogging

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Freeing the Angel

“access to the best that has been thought and written …” Michael Gove

I’ve always been wary of the notion of a literary canon: a list of the best that has ever been written. In part, my concern stems from worries about who gets to decide what is ‘best’ (Mr Gove, apparently). I also fear that, since women and minorities did not have an equal chance of publication until relatively recently, the ‘best of’ list will consist mostly of dead white men. (Thus sending a subconscious message to any girls who might dare dream of becoming a writer.) But mainly my concern stems from the idea that we can say what is ‘best’ when it comes to fiction. Because ‘best’ implies a value judgement, and my values may not be the same as yours. Are we talking about the ‘best’ in terms of what we might call literary merit?…

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