Education: The Ignorant Reader

Britain's G. M. Trevelyan, famed historian son of a famed historian father, thinks the modern reader is getting less & less able to understand good writing. Last week, in a pamphlet published by the Oxford University Press, he told his countrymen why: "Literature, more than painting and music, is a matter of references, of play made with bits of knowledge common to author and reader." The trouble is, says Trevelyan, that this common knowledge is getting scantier & scantier.

For one thing, "many readers today are unfamiliar with that part of history which consists of the names and legends of classical...

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