Hierarchy

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One of the things that seems to have touched a nerve in my letter to the Guardian is my use of the word 'hierarchy'. Am I, I thought to myself, completely barmy in thinking that a notion of hierarchy can be applied to children's literature in the same way that it can be applied to general literature? And even if it can, am I, I thought further, completely out-of-order using the term in 2004?
So I was somewhat gratified to find this recent review, by Brian Morton in the Sunday Herald, of Iain Finlayson's biography of Browning, in which Morton writes:

"Feminist revisionism has attempted to put Barrett above Browning in the literary hierarchy. She was the more natural and in some respects the more polished talent, but she is also unmistakably a slighter poet. Browning?s other unexpected resemblance to a writer like Norman Mailer is that he is first, last and always that very thing: a man who writes and who works out his meaning as he writes. Browning recognised one of the differences between his and his future wife?s work. ?You speak out, you ? I only make men and women speak.? He was right, but that was his strength and her weakness."

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An argument could be made for thinking that the notion of hierarchy is only useful when applied to literataure of the past. Certainly, hierarchies are fluid things, open to periodic revision. But children in a classroom are acutely aware of their comparative talents and abilities in the here-and-now, however much a teacher may avoid overt reference to them. That's not something people grow out of.

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This page contains a single entry by achuka published on February 17, 2004 10:52 AM.

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