Ragged Dick and Mark, the Match Boy

Ragged Dick and Mark, the Match Boy

Ragged Dick and Mark, the Match Boy

Ragged Dick and Mark, the Match Boy

Excerpt

Two kinds of general literature are available to the student of American society: on one hand, studies that examine the influences of "great," "thoughtful," "artistic," and "sober" men, and on the other hand, studies of popular culture in which ideas and attitudes that have a strange paternity are brought into focus. In many instances a student can read a great deal of American history before he becomes acquainted with the latter, and there is a danger that if he delays too long he will not really understand his heritage.

But in this far from best of all possible worlds, the virtuous often go unrewarded, truth is usually honored in the breach, joy is generally unrefined, crime often pays a lot, and national taste and sensitivity, look for them where you will, are typically deplorable. Is it the thinking of John Dewey that best explains our age -- or the witless perversions of his arguments by uninspired school administrators? Is it the great novelists or poets like Thomas Wolfe or Robert Frost who represent our literary ideals -- or the best-selling writers like Lloyd C. Douglas and Edgar Guest? Which newspaper reflects the opinions of the majority of Americans -- the New York Times or the New York Daily News? Do the architectural ideas of Frank Lloyd Wright dot our landscape -- or those of designers of look-alike split-level traps? Are more people satisfied by I Love Lucy than by Death of a Salesman?

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