The great books speak with everyone

According to Jonathan Rose

in fact “the canon” enabled “the masses” to become thinking individuals. Until fairly recently, Britain had an amazingly vital autodidact culture, where a large minority of the working classes passionately pursued classic literature, philosophy, and music. They were denied the educational privileges that Professor Smith enjoyed, but they knew that the “great books” that she derided would emancipate the workers.

More …


See also¬†“Lincoln, MacBeth, and why art matters” and “Why art matters, and how literature professors could, too“.



  1. According to Nick Cohen

    The populist mood is seductive. When you are caught up in a focus group or planning meeting it can feel reasonable to give the sovereign consumer what he or she wants. Participants have to shake themselves into realising that if they followed the same principles with the young, children would never learn to read and write. In the end, populism always ends up as the truest version of elitism, because it assumes that the peasants do not want their little heads bothered with difficult ideas.


    • According to Robert Fulford

      Scruton takes pleasure in his status as an outsider among philosophers. He’s a conservative populist, always eager to write coherently for a large public, always hopeful that he can bring the people to his side, even when he makes what many will consider outrageously stern demands on them.

      For Scruton in his own words, see here.


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