Skip to content

From “The Blight of Literary Bookishness,” by Percival Chubb, Anti-Comics Crusader

“Sometimes we can coax these immigrants who come to us to dance and sing; but very rarely. They soon get shamed out of their cunning, and join our hosts of patrons who seek relief from monotonous toil in the dime show and the saloon, the “yellow” newspaper and magazine. Yes, it is we, with our over-commercialized life—commercialized drama and opera, commercialized book production and story-making—who have carried farthest this strangling of the arts of the folk. It is we through whom these participants in a living folk-culture sink to the lowest estate as passive patrons of our tawdry and tainted shows.

“No doubt the causes are complex. I shall not attempt an enumeration, but will limit myself to the consequences of the increasing vogue of the book, the mortal tyranny of print. I return, then, to my text that the book is killing the sensuous beauty and emotional appeal of literature. The book lies between us and the essentials of literary beauty. It lies between us and vital literary education. We read our lyrics and our stories, but we don’t sing them and recite them. We cannot even imagine tunes for them as we read—for those lovely lyrical overflows which flood Shakespeare’s plays with melody, for those songs of Burns, for those remaining folk-songs and ballads which are finding cold storage in our anthologies. They are gone with the crooning and lilting of our forefathers, with the singing games of childhood, with the great festivals of the folk.”

–From “The Blight of Literary Bookishness,” (1914) by Percival Chubb, Anti-Comics Crusader