Virile Literature

Old books are fun. You never know what gem you might find in what appears to be the most unlikely candidate. So it is always worthwhile taking a look. For example, I recently found a 1917 volume titled, Public School Methods, vol. 4. The title did not sound very promising, but I discovered that the volume is fascinating. About half of the book is taken up with a discussion of the value and importance of reading. It is very interesting to see how vastly different ideas were 90 years ago.
One section was titled “Virile Literature,” and I thought it was excellent. Here is the bulk of it:

“There is a tendency among boys and some grown people to look upon literature, especially upon poetry, as sentimental, and upon a love for it as effeminate. There is no possibility of such a feeling in the mind of a person who has been properly trained…. There is plenty of manliness in literature and abundant examples for reading which will require all the force of a trained intellect to comprehend. We must do nothing to destroy the virility of reading, but must make it not only the instrument of study but also a means of culture. The wise teacher sees that her classes have a great variety of matter and often leads them into selections that stir the young blood of the manliest boys among her pupils. While there may be fine phrases and elegant structure in such pieces, she encourages the reader to feel the glow of heroism or to warm their souls in the fire of patriotism.”

Indeed. Well put! That is what we aspire to.

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