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Thursday, June 13, 2019

The literature we have lost

I was comparing the 1918 and 1958 editions of the first volume of the Collier Junior Classics, and one of the first things I noted was that the Introduction by Harvard University President Charles Eliot had been replaced with one by William Neilson, the former President of Smith College. I strongly suspect the following two paragraphs will suffice to explain why it was replaced:

The right selection of reading matter for children is obviously of high importance.  Some of the mythologies, Old Testament stories, fairy tales, and historical romances, on which earlier generations were accustomed to feed the childish mind, contain a great deal that is barbarous, perverse, or cruel; and to this infiltration into children's minds, generation after generation, of immoral, cruel, or foolish ideas is probably to be attributed in part the slow ethical progress of the race.  The commonest justification of this thoughtless practice is that children do not apprehend the evil in the bad mental pictures with which we foolishly supply them; but what should we think of a mother who gave her children dirty milk or porridge, on the theory that the children would not assimilate the dirt?  Should we be less careful about mental and moral food materials?  The Junior Classics have been selected with this principle in mind, without losing sight of the fact that every developing human being needs to have a vision of the rough and thorny road over which the human race has been slowly advancing during thousands of years.

Whoever has committed to memory in childhood such Bible extracts as Genesis i, the Ten Commandments, Psalm xxiii, Matthew v, 8-12, The Lord's Prayer, and I Corinthians xiii, such English prose as Lincoln's Gettysburg speech, Bacon's "Essay on Truth," and such poems as Bryant's "Waterfowl," Addison's "Divine Ode," Milton's Sonnet on his Blindness, Wotton's "How happy is he born or taught," Emerson's "Rhodora," Holmes's "Chambered Nautilus," and Gray's Elegy, and has stamped them on his brain by frequent repetition, will have set up in his mind high standards of noble thought and feeling, true patriotism, and pure religion.  He will also have laid in an invaluable store of good English.

What has happened to the former "Junior Classics" in the last 100 years is both a prelude and a microcosm of what has happened to the West as a whole. It's something that can be seen in everything from the transition of blasphemy laws to hate speech laws and the musical descent from "The Hallelujah Chorus" to "Christmas in Hollis". First, the Christian influence was pushed to the side, then it was removed and replaced with a focus on secular aesthetics, then the aesthetics were abandoned and the original purpose of the institution was entirely lost.

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58 Comments:

Blogger Zorlig June 13, 2019 1:05 PM  

I assume you'd get both introductions? Get them, preferably hard cover, I'll buy them!

Blogger CM June 13, 2019 1:10 PM  

Is the first paragraph the 1958 forward and the second from 1918?

Blogger VD June 13, 2019 1:12 PM  

No, because the 1958 Introduction is under copyright. The 1918 is public domain.

Blogger Zorlig June 13, 2019 1:16 PM  

Oh that makes sense, gotcha.

Blogger Silent Draco June 13, 2019 1:28 PM  

I'm in for recovering and protecting the original.

That's the Harvard University President Charles Eliot who worked with magnates and landowners to establish what became Acadia National Park.
Similar squalid condition. First, the Christian influence to establish such a place of many paths, walks, and roads for the spiritual and physical well-being of fellow men was pushed to the side, then it was removed and replaced with a focus on secular aesthetics such as new vistas and handling motorist use after the 1947 Great Fire, then the aesthetics were abandoned and the original purpose of the institution was entirely lost to increasing and managing the visitor count, transportation planning, and returning a highly man-made landscape back to nature - no tree cutting, removals or cleanup.

Dr. Eliot's mental and physical legacies are both imperiled, but we can save one more easily.

Blogger Jean Durtal June 13, 2019 1:40 PM  

Forgive my stupidity, but is the first paragraph from the later edition, and the second from the former?

Because I certainly don't approve of the idea that "Old Testament stories, fairy tales, and historical romances" are the cause of a supposed "slow ethical progress of the race."

Blogger Andy Evick June 13, 2019 1:52 PM  

Looking forward to purchasing a copy for my young son. Thanks, VD.

Blogger Nate73 June 13, 2019 2:00 PM  

One thing I sometimes wonder is if we'll lose electricity in the coming dark age. So much knowledge only exists in digitized form...

Blogger Chris Ritchie June 13, 2019 2:00 PM  

Emerson's "Rhodora,
This issue has been on my mind for many years now. I was an adult before I realized that Emerson, Thoreau, et. al. were apostates to the Christian religion. They push religion all right: the religion and deification of man. Necessarily, this excludes God. It's no wonder so many young adults leave Christianity once they hit college. The indoctrination into Secular Humanism is woven through the entire curriculum, and not just literature. It's in the examples chosen for mathematical proofs, to name one area.

The public schools have done their job. There is an excellent book on this I found years later, Apostate by Kevin Swanson. We were indoctrinated right under our Christian parents' noses. I HATE the public schools for doing it to us, and without our consent. This is a large part of what has destroyed the Christian West.

Our children have read all of the original fairy tales, without the editing. Grimm's, Aesop's, Hans Christian Andersen, and many others.

You are what you read, as they say. Good job on this Vox. We will be purchasing them, as you make them available.

Blogger Johnny June 13, 2019 2:04 PM  

People who produce new stuff in all sorts of things don't want the old stuff around. That is probably the reason it gets dropped so completely. Or as completely as they can manage.

Blogger Jeff aka Orville June 13, 2019 2:09 PM  

@6 I would presume both paragraphs are from 1958 as VD stated. What you are stumbling over in the second paragraph is the usual biblical cherry picking of what doesn't offend the progressive. But ultimately, they will toss the whole Bible on the trash heap.

Blogger Shimshon June 13, 2019 2:11 PM  

If, as has been surmised, the first paragraph is from the 1958 edition, it's quite jarring how open he was about his intentions, even that far back.

Blogger Quicksilver June 13, 2019 2:16 PM  

Will you sell these at castalia? Will it be a limited or unlimited print run?

Blogger tublecane June 13, 2019 2:19 PM  

Ther pretty horrible stuff in Current Year kiddie stories. Is this because we've ethically regressed, or did William Neilson get his wish and he's just talking out of his rear here.

Neilson was a Scottish immigrant and as such perhaps a Presbyterian nut. I'm going to chalk it up to that, totally unfairly on my part.

Blogger Daniel June 13, 2019 2:24 PM  

The 1950s were a horrorshow for children.

"What, this massive baby boom? Yeah, let's see what happens when we raise it to be the most ethical secular cohort in world history...."

Blogger Andres June 13, 2019 2:32 PM  

I'd definitely buy them.

Blogger Jeff aka Orville June 13, 2019 2:35 PM  

@15 shhh...Daniel. Don't give the boomers an excuse.

Blogger Katechon June 13, 2019 2:36 PM  

Both paragraphs are written by Charles W. Eliot.

Blogger Daniel June 13, 2019 3:04 PM  

Right...because that's what Boomers have been missing all this time: excuses.

Blogger Rhys June 13, 2019 3:05 PM  

Jean Durtal wrote:Forgive my stupidity, but is the first paragraph from the later edition, and the second from the former?
It's confusing because of our historical vantage point, but the basic gist is that he's claiming the former (folklore, the OT, and middle ages literature) is barbaric and uncouth, while the latter (post-enlightenment literature) is much more beneficial for children. Very similar to the arguments SJW's make for replacing post-enlightenment media with globohomo media.

Blogger CM June 13, 2019 3:07 PM  

@6 I would presume both paragraphs are from 1958 as VD stated. What you are stumbling over in the second paragraph is the usual biblical cherry picking of what doesn't offend the progressive. But ultimately, they will toss the whole Bible on the trash heap.

Ah. Thank you. I was being dimwitted. The second paragraph seemed to contradict the first, and I couldn't figure it out.

Blogger Silent Draco June 13, 2019 3:07 PM  

@6, please re-read the first paragraph carefully, and diagram the sentences if necessary. The theme is the last sentence.

The intent is to change some of heritage selections of some fairy tales, mythology, and romances to improve the set, without hiding or glossing over the long, slow slog up through salvation history. We're fallen from our ideal, so Man must work long and hard to get closer to our vanished state of grace.

Blogger GM June 13, 2019 3:09 PM  

Vox - do you know of any series like the Collier Junior Classics for Italian literature and written in Italian?

Blogger VD June 13, 2019 3:13 PM  

Vox - do you know of any series like the Collier Junior Classics for Italian literature and written in Italian?

No, I don't.

Blogger VD June 13, 2019 3:16 PM  

the basic gist is that he's claiming the former (folklore, the OT, and middle ages literature) is barbaric and uncouth, while the latter (post-enlightenment literature) is much more beneficial for children.

That's not correct. He's simply attempting to excise the darker aspects from the earlier literature without throwing it out altogether. It has nothing to do with post-Enlightenment literature.

One would look dimly on a selection of Old Testament stories for children that focused on nothing but murder, rape, masturbation, and genocide, after all.

Blogger Argus Bacchus June 13, 2019 3:21 PM  

"Old Testament stories...on which earlier generations were accustomed to feed the childish mind, contain a great deal that is barbarous, perverse, or cruel; and to this infiltration into children's minds, generation after generation, of immoral, cruel, or foolish ideas is probably to be attributed in part the slow ethical progress of the race."


Willie Nelson probably understands the Bible better than William Neilson did.

Before he became a country music legend, Willie used to sell Bibles.

As a board member of the NAACP, William used to sell white guilt.


In addition, White Guilt William was a member of the National Refugee Service, which merged with the usual suspects to form the USNA.

https://infogalactic.com/info/United_Service_for_New_Americans

What a guy.

Blogger Mr.MantraMan June 13, 2019 3:34 PM  

The great secular literature reads like a comedy, quite a shock to wake up in Clown World.

Blogger Noah B. June 13, 2019 3:36 PM  

We've been conditioned to react negatively to the word "progress" because the wormtongues who use it now almost always mean the opposite.

Blogger A rebel without a General June 13, 2019 3:46 PM  

Vox you can leave the Gettysburg address.

Blogger kudzu bob June 13, 2019 3:48 PM  

Compare the 1913 Webster's Dictionary (which is author John McPhee's secret weapon) to what is available now.

Blogger weka June 13, 2019 3:59 PM  

The best editions of almost anything predate the war. The Great War. (1914 to 1918)

Blogger Jab Burrwalky June 13, 2019 4:00 PM  

While he's not entirely clued in on reality, Patrick J. Deneen's book "Why Liberalism Failed" has a lot of good discussion on why this kind of thing has happened and continues to happen.

Blogger BassmanCO June 13, 2019 4:13 PM  

--One would look dimly on a selection of Old Testament stories for children that focused on nothing but murder, rape, masturbation, and genocide, after all.

Well, except for George Rape Rape Martin. I am sure he would wholly approve. Probably his next book.

Blogger Rhys June 13, 2019 4:21 PM  

VD wrote:That's not correct. He's simply attempting to excise the darker aspects from the earlier literature without throwing it out altogether. It has nothing to do with post-Enlightenment literature.
I had a bad feeling about that after seeing someone mention Charles wrote both paragraphs. My reading comprehension needs work.

Blogger Chris Ritchie June 13, 2019 4:24 PM  

@28 - https://images.app.goo.gl/HTZ7UaFYvzcnuBXG9

Blogger Sheila4g June 13, 2019 4:38 PM  

Vox, how much of the content was changed in total? We have volumes 2-9 of the 1938/1948 edition, so I have no idea if the volumes' content is the same as the 1918 edition or not.

We also have volumes 1-6 of "My Book House" from The BookHouse For Children, published in 1925. It is another excellent collection of classics. My late mother-in-law gave them to us along with the Collier books . . . after she rescued them from a neighbor who was putting them out in the trash.

Blogger Stilicho June 13, 2019 4:50 PM  

I regret that I have but one face to palm for my countrymen

Blogger RC June 13, 2019 5:35 PM  

@Sheila4g, The 1938 edition's introduction is by Neilson. There are several selections with a post-1918 copyright just in Volume 1.

Blogger Meng Greenleaf June 13, 2019 5:46 PM  

Maybe this is common knowledge, but I noticed that from the 1800s to 1900s and now 2000s to trend is from clear common sense to abstract nonsense.

In mathematics Euclidean geometry gave way to the Cartesian coordinate system and now kids learn some weird ten-box-addition-subtraction that equates to division. I'm not exactly mathematically gifted, but I did complete 6 semesters of calculus in University. I don't get the rational for new math/s.

In logic Aristotelian Term-Logic gave way to Propositional Logic (both of which care express thought) and then Predicate Logic (a little too abstraction now) and now Logic is pretty much so abstract it's only taught to coding majors who mostly don't care about how to think. So logic in the sense that it was developed, to think clearly, is now actually zero thinking.

Likewise, with Language, Arts, everything seems to have moved from the clear and sensible, to abstract and nonsensical. From Classical (common sense) to Modern (utilitarian?) to Post-Modern (nonsense).

You can also see it in the sciences, clear repeatable gives way to flowery non-repeatable. Just look at Feminism. I think the feminists of the 1800s would be saddened with the state of the 2000s. Those men who supported Public Education - what would they make of today's age?

Blogger Stilicho June 13, 2019 6:11 PM  

Watch the Nutcracker Suite sometime as a glimpse into a civilization that died in the First world War. So much lost.

Blogger Kat June 13, 2019 6:22 PM  

I'm on board.

The fairy tales and Shakespeare and things of that nature are still easy to get, but there's a wealth of other literature that's becoming increasingly hard to find in print form. I see homeschool moms all the time drooling over someone's Goodwill or library sale haul.

For anyone looking for guidance on books - I'd imagine the Ambleside online list to be a good one for anyone looking to stock their shelves with quality children's books. We're still firmly in the Little House/fairy tale/Dr. Seusse stage right now, so I've not dug too deeply into the list myself.

Oh, and I don't know if you could get the rights to it, but They Were Strong and Good is the kind of book that simply couldn't get written or printed today.

Blogger Kat June 13, 2019 6:25 PM  

Well, apparently I was wrong about They Were Strong and Good. Barnes and Noble says they carry it. I just assumed that because it didn't vilify the South and celebrated our country's European origins that it would be out of print. Guess the SJWs haven't gotten to it yet....

Blogger Roy Zesch June 13, 2019 6:33 PM  

This is why we used the Robinson Curriculum for all our homeschool kids https://www.robinsoncurriculum.com/rc/homeschool-curriculum-excellence/

Blogger Daniel June 13, 2019 6:53 PM  

This will make a great gift

Blogger Thought Criminal June 13, 2019 7:27 PM  

"Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book has been rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And that process is continuing day be day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except the endless present in which the party is always right.

The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became the truth.

In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act."

- George Orwell

Blogger Pierre June 13, 2019 7:50 PM  

This week we purchased a dictionary.

After a quick comparison of a few key definitions against another dictionary from the 1990's, it became apparent that the new edition is contaminated with woke garbage.

Blogger Roman Daoist June 13, 2019 9:35 PM  

39. Meng Greenleaf
I don't get the rational for new math/s.


Feminist principals -> feminist government department heads -> feminist theories of education...

It's not the correct answer that matters dear, it's that you feel empowered while giving your answer. 'Correctness' is just a male construct anyway and no longer relevant in 2019.

Feminism is self-erasing, which is why there are no complex matriarchal cultures. And why we need to push-back. I'm writing to my daughter's principal on a couple of these things. (The 'recognition of aboriginal lands' over and over and over again, participation awards, bizarro maths, etc.) I'm NOT expecting a turn-around. I am expecting her to have in mind that there are reasonable people who reasonably contest some of the current practises.

Blogger Daniel June 13, 2019 10:04 PM  

Wait a minute. Neilson died in 1938. Whatever introduction he wrote may no longer be under copyright, depending on when he wrote it.

Blogger Daniel June 13, 2019 10:06 PM  

No, sorry, that's wrong. He died in 46, left Smith in 39.

Blogger Cluebat June 13, 2019 10:22 PM  

“He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”

Blogger Gregory the Great June 14, 2019 4:14 AM  

Grammar has also been changed by eliminating analytical categories like dative and gerund. Soon they will eliminate the accusative, too, because its use can be interpreted as micro-aggression.

Blogger Johnny June 14, 2019 5:16 AM  

39. Meng Greenleaf

Just looking at it briefly, what they call Predicate Logic looks a whole lot to me like Boolean Logic. It is the kind of thing you need to know if you are designing the electronics for a computer or other digital device. It is basically a set of rules that can be used to determine the outcomes of an electronic circuit. Unless you are programming in Assembler, the need to know this stuff is fairly minimal. The higher level programming languages, and that is most of them, take you fairly quickly to the logic of algebra and the common base 10 math that we all use. Boolean Logic is more like a set of rules than a way of thinking about things.

I have long thought that the reason they keep shifting around on teaching methods is that it is a way of running away from the past. They avoid the need to defend previous outcomes by using the new method as a talking point. 'New' sells well in a conversation.

Blogger Toris June 14, 2019 1:58 PM  

Now I feel like reading a Brothers Grimm story about our Jewish friends.

Permission to address the Big Bear if his acute sense of smell leads him here. About liberal internationalist William A. Neilson above ... he chaired exec committee of Commission to Study the Organisation of *Peace* (sponsored by Church *Peace* Union, American Union for Concerted *Peace* Efforts, World Citizens Association, League of Nations Association, etc.). This ‘Commission to Study the Organisation of Peace’ (CSOP) had James Shotwell as chairman (of E. M. House’s The Inquiry at Paris *Peace* Conference, later president of the Carnegie Endowment for International *Peace* -> after Alger Hiss), Clark Eichelberger as Director (all round champion of various world order/world peace organisations), members such as Hugh Moore (Hugh Moore Fund for International *Peace* -> population control, Woodrow Wilson Foundation, Planned Parenthood), John Foster Dulles the peacemaker, Walter Lichtenstein, etc. Clarence Streit peddled ‘his’ World Government/World Peace ideas through CSOP when he wasn’t fluffing peace-loving Rotarians, etc. Basically, typical universalist “Peace Society” propaganda for a liberal international order. Get in the pot and melt.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash June 14, 2019 3:00 PM  

Johnny wrote:I have long thought that the reason they keep shifting around on teaching methods is that it is a way of running away from the past. They avoid the need to defend previous outcomes by using the new method as a talking point. 'New' sells well in a conversation.
If your core doctrine is that each and every generation is smarter and smarter than every past generation, how long can you continue using the same methods as the past generations? Deductive logic hasn't changed sins Aristotle. When reason demonstrates the falsity of your unquestionable conclusions, it's time to get rid of reason.

Blogger collegereactionary June 15, 2019 3:54 PM  

A lot of commenters are talking about the 'worship of man' and I have to say that I'm here for a similar reason.

The learned professor makes a good point that we should avoid pouring garbage into the minds of children, but his perspective completely lacks humility. He assumes that he knows more about the human experience than any writer that came before him.

Yes, the world is violent and evil, but that tragedy is a key part of our life. He replaced every medieval and genuinely christian tradition with a carefully curated selection of bible verses and a few vapid works of the enlightenment era. Progressives like him accomplished great things in building our modern world, but their ideology doesn't account for any of that tragedy in the human experience.

All he has to display as the summit of human knowledge is sentimentality and hubris. He has deified his own values and has no sense of moral humility. Like all progressives, he thinks that anything that feels bad to him must be inherently immoral, and can only be stamped out.

-collegereactionary

Blogger Brandon June 16, 2019 11:06 AM  

You might consider publishing Our Better Country, it is US history through WWI. It is not a complete history though. It has a religious angle.

You might also consider publishing anything off http://amblesideonline.org/ . We use that heavily in our home schooling.

We already have a great books library we found in a cabin (no joke), but if we didn't, I'd consider buying a nice set for our kids.

Blogger Neil Patrick Carris September 11, 2019 10:14 AM  

I'll back this if in Hardcover. It's very difficult to find 1918 editions in good condition; so I think a high quality Hardcover without the cuckery of the 1958 edition will be a big hit for collectors and folks with children.

Blogger Unknown September 17, 2019 10:41 PM  

We have been finding it difficult to source a complete set of the earliest edition. $300 bucks sounds well worth it for hardcover heriloom books...does anyone know where the crowdfunding takes place or how we can get notified right away?

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