He who cannot draw on three thousand years is living from hand to mouth. -- Goethe
Three Not-Quite-Non Sequiturs:
I remember my high school English teacher telling us that in order to break form you need to understand and be capable of the original form. In specific, she was speaking of the sonnet. Shakespeare was perfectly capable of penning a perfect sonnet. He did so. Therefore, when he deviated from the format, using a spondee instead of a iamb, he did it with full intention and purpose.
This taught me to look at the concept of rebellion in a new light: In order to truly rebel, one must first understand and be fully capable of performing, thinking, doing, etc, whatever it is one is rebelling against. (After all, it's only lashing out against your infirmities otherwise or fighting against someone else's beliefs, neither of which are truly rebellious in nature.) And secondly, rebellion without a purpose is stupidity personified.
When applied to writing, then, it seems that in order to pen something new and fresh and thought-provoking one needs to become a student of the masters. Without an understanding of the accepted form(s), how can one make playful references to the past or purposeful breaks from essential truths?
All this is to say that I'm contemplating the purchase of the Harvard Classics, originally known as Dr. Eliot's Five Foot Shelf. Of course, owning said books and actually reading them are two different things, I acknowledge, but Dr. Eliot promises that in just "fifteen minutes a day" I can obtain all the elements of a liberal education.
In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. --George Orwell