Home » (Criticisms and Critiques) » A Quote. Of Words. Of Literature and Literary Education.

A Quote. Of Words. Of Literature and Literary Education.

For behold, O Lord my King; whatsoever good I have learned, being a boy, unto thy service let it be directed, yea, whatsoever I speak or write, or read, or number, let all serve thee. For when I learned vain things, thou didst discipline me: and in those vanities, thou forgavest the sinfulness of my delight in them. In those studies I learned many useful words, but those might have been also learned in studies not so vain: which is, I confess, the safest way for children to be trained up in. . . .

Plainly, these words [i.e., the useful rudiments of a literary education] are not so much the more easily learned by this filthy matter, but by these words sin is more confidently committed. I blame not the words, which of themselves are like vessels choice and precious; but that wine of error which is in them, drunk to us by our intoxicated teachers.

—Augustine, Confessions I.xv-xvi

Literature is not neutral.

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