chapter
8 Pages

Introduction

WithS. S. Prawer

It must be the common experience of those whose vocation—or whose fate—it is to teach others the ‘appreciation’ of literature, to be confronted with some who doubt, not only the efficacy of the teaching in question, but the value of the thing taught. Novel and drama always find a willing audience—but the ominous ‘I can’t make head or tail of poetry’ (with ‘What’s the use of poetry, anyway’ lurking unexpressed in the background) is heard all too often, at least at Redbrick universities, when students are frankly discussing their difficulties. All too many still believe, with Peacock in The Four Ages of Poetry, that poetry is a kind of ‘mental rattle’ which the grown man would do well to discard.