112. 19 January 1997 [NM] (Education in England)

previously unpublished; © the estate of eric sams and beatrice cazac (Mrs. Mathew’s letters)

Dear Eric, yours of the 8th crossed mine. Your enclosure left me in deep shock. I'm quite aware that education in England has gone to the dogs, and never got very far in the USA except for few specialized people with heads shaped like eggs. But this leaves me speechless. There was perhaps never so great a poet as Shakespeare in any language. We can reach to the farthermost frontiers of our own language in him - where did I read that 1587-1612 was 'the most creative period in English history'? And he is now to be cast out of the syllabus because the students prefer to learn about Boxing Fiction, abetted by teachers who are hypnotized by the Theory which the French have been teasing them with - but would not allow within light-years of their own French Bachot, not to speak of University. You cannot - and rightly - pass the Bachot Sciences (I don't say Litt.) without a thorough knowledge of Rabelais, Racine, Molière, Voltaire, Baudelaire and a host of others, none of them reaching the breadth and depth of our Will. And these morons, allowed to choose what they like before they've any idea what there is to choose from, are to major at University without reading even one of the plays which have given their language its meaning and melody? They deserve to sink into l'abomination de la désolation – if not already there. This comes of university training gratis for all. Instead it should be a hard won privilege.

   [..] I would appreciate details, if you can spare the time, about the 'Shakespeare is Dr Lopez' man, and perhaps a copy of Michell's approving letter?. I've got a chapter 'in Baconanianos' where this might come in handy. Also do send me copies of your Edward III reviews. Some people waking up?

   I've been rereading Edmund Ironside for the nth time with the same pleasure. Only in future efforts do insist on having notes on the same page. People are getting more amenable to them, and it's far the best way of having them read. I do, but with such trouble. There's one thing I particularly enjoy (and which I've sometimes done in poems): your way of having the caesura act as a comma. It makes the poem breathe - dance even.

   You seem to be deeply engaged in social and musical activities, the Mühle klappering away. Don't forget Shakespeare. He must be preserved in all his reality for the post-Postmodern age to rediscover.