I think there comes a time when many students become frustrated with the types of books they are reading. Considering the time we all live in this is understandable; why read crappy or uninteresting books when I could be doing something else worth my time? But the issue that I take with the article, “Where Did All of the Great Books Go?” is that the columnist needs the approval of literature heirarchs to tell him what the great books are. And there is something flawed with this reasoning: why would you have somebody tell you which books are “great” as opposed to books that are not “great?” It seems absurd to me that there has to be some authority that dictates which books are the great ones. In reality, I think the individual is the only authority that determines whether a book can be great or not, and the individual becomes an authority is if he/she actually reads the text. I find it humorous that the columnists willingly accepts the sagacious and authoritative views of “great books” but scoffs at the idea of Derek Walcott and Takashi Murakami when he probably didn’t read either author.
The columnist’s arguments seems even more flawed because his view is antithetical to the liberal arts education, which, in my mind, demands that the student observe, entertain, and respect the varying, different, and diverse opinions and texts of the world. And all of this is done so the student can grow and expand as a person and as an academic. Therefore it seems ridiculous that the columnist matches the literary cannon versus a class curriculum to determine if what is being studied is worth his time. It is very conceded to believe that contemporary works are not worth anyone’s time, and I think any person is doing themselves a disservice if they ardently follow the literary canon today. Canon is helpful in the fact that they provide us with classical texts that are enriching, but I don’t think we should obsessively consult them to make sure we know everything about the past. If we do that, then we fail to see what is right in front us. Canons suggest what we should take from the past, but the contemporary works shows us what we need to know today.