Archive for the ‘Depravity’ Category

As many of you know, the value of novel reading has been debated for centuries.  Geek that I am, I’m reading A Book for Sixpense: The Circulating Library in America by David Kaser. In it he mentions an essay with the above title that appeared in 1797 in Britain’s Monthly Mirror. He further refers to an essay in the Boston Weekly Magazine of January 1803 in which the author states “How my heart aches when I see lovely girls just emerged from childhood…allowed to have free access to the circulating libraries, and suffered to read whatever book chance or fashion may put into their hands.”

But best of all is this anonymous parody appearing in the Library Journal of October 1893 entitled the Fiction Song. It goes as follows:

At a library desk stood some readers one day

Crying “novels, oh, novels, oh, novels!”

And I said to them, “People, oh, why do you say

“Give us novels, oh, novels, oh, novels?”

Is it weakness of intellect, people, I cried,

Or simply a space where the brains should abide?”

They answered me not, or they only replied,

“Give us novels, oh, novels, oh, novels!”

Here are thousands of books that will do you more good

Than the novels, oh, novels, oh, novels!

You will weaken your brain with such poor mental food

As the novels, oh, novels, oh, novels!

Pray take history, music, or travels, or plays,

Biography, poetry, science, essays

Or anything else that more wisdom displays

Than the novels, oh, novels, oh, novels!

A librarian may talk till he’s black in the face

About novels, oh, novels, oh, novels!

And may think that with patience he may raise the taste

Above novels, oh, novels, oh, novels!

He may talk till with age his round shoulders are bent

And the white hairs of time ‘mid the black ones are sent,

When he hands his report in still seventy per cent

Will be novels, oh, novels, oh, novels!

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