Sign in  |  Register

The New Criterion

It operates as a refuge for a civilizing element in short supply in contemporary America: honest criticism
- The Wall Street Journal
Franciscan

Features

October 2001

The battle of the book: the research library today

by Eric Ormsby

The second in a series titled “The survival of culture”

In seventeenth- and eighteenth-century England and France a boisterous debate, traditionally known as the “Battle of the Books,” raged for many decades. The issue at stake was one of style: should we accept the “Antients” (to use Jonathan Swift’s spelling) as our models and exemplars in matters literary, given their immemorial legacy of acutely expressive prose and verse, or should we rather forge a “Modern” style and manner befitting our own age and its peculiar requirements and contingencies? Charles Perrault in France in the 1695 preface to his Contes sided resolutely with the moderns, and this on moral grounds: the ancient fables taught a destructive morality. Interestingly enough, he singled out the pernicious effects of certain misogynistic classical tales on young girls’ moral nature and declared: “I maintain that my fables deserve more to be related than most of the ancient tales &he ...

This article is available to subscribers and for individual purchase

Subscribe to TNC (Print and Online editions)

Subscribe to TNC (Online only)

Purchase article credit and clip this article

If you already have an account login first

Eric Ormsby's latest book is The Baboons of Hada, a selection of his poems (Carcanet).


more from this author

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 20 October 2001, on page 4

Copyright © 2014 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com

http://www.newcriterion.com/articles.cfm/The-battle-of-the-book--the-research-library-today-2110

E-mail to friend


The New Criterion

By the author

Hidden affinities

by Eric Ormsby

On “Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

A confusion of harmonies

by Eric Ormsby

On Petrach and Luis de Góngora y Argote.

You might also enjoy

The law & Richard Epstein

by Hadley Arkes

Analyzing the views of the distinguished legal scholar Richard Epstein.

Artists & politics

by Donald Kagan

A lecture delivered by Donald Kagan after he received the second Edmund Burke Award for Service to Culture and Society.

Reclaiming Madison

by James Piereson

A new biography of James Madison hopes to change the way we remember America's fourth President.

Most popular

view more >

Subscribe to our newsletter!

* indicates required

Webcasts

The Walter Duranty Prize for Journalistic Mendacity
On May 5, 2014, The New Criterion and PJ Media presented the second Walter Duranty Prize for Journalistic Mendacity. The award is given to highlight egregious examples of dishonest reporting. Also awarded this year was the Rather, a new award for lifetime achievement in mendacious journalism.
The Duranty Prize is named after Walter Duranty, the New York Times Moscow corresponded in the 1920s and 1930s who whitewashed Joseph Stalin’s forced starvation of the Ukrainians (the Holodomor) and many other aspects of Soviet oppression. Duranty was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1932 for his efforts. It has never been revoked.
Audio copyright Ed Driscoll, www.eddriscoll.com.


Introduction to The Kennedy Phenomenon
Roger Kimball introduces The Kennedy Phenomenon, a conference presented by The New Criterion on Tuesday, November 19.


The Kennedy Phenomenon: "Watching the Kennedy Train-Wreck"
Roger Kimball reads Peter Collier’s paper on oft-overlooked unsavory details of the Kennedys' lives. Much of the paper is drawn from Collier’s book, coauthored with David Horowitz, The Kennedys: An American Drama.