Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Book Club:  Imagination Method #5

How-to books can be annoying oversimplifications for negotiating life, but not Anthony Esolen's Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child.

Chapter after chapter he guides us through a wide variety of literature and shows us how it applies to every day lives.

Continuous critical and damaging remarks on persons, places, and things have altered not only the literal landscapes of our country, but also the literary places of our imaginations.

Esolen is heroic in his efforts to help us remember, recognize, and realize.

With copious examples from literature, Esolen directs the focus of  parents to four areas:  the gathering of communities (holidays), honoring our elders (heroes), loving the land (terra firma), and remembering history (genealogy).

Frankly, when I was reading some of these epics and stories in high school and college, I struggled just to grasp the surface meanings.  It was in French that I read portions of La Chanson de Roland, in Latin that I read the Aeneid.  I thought Flannery O'Connor was weird (kinda still do) and that poets are difficult to understand (some still are).

This past Saturday I took a field trip with DD#3, one of her college friends, and one of my nephews.  We three visited Andalusia Farm (Mary Flannery's homestead) in Milledgeville, GA, walking all over the property, visiting O'Connor's grave, and attending mass at her family church (Sacred Heart).

First, we set the tone by eating together (link to Blue Willow).

Thankfully, imaginations can be revived.


  1. I never read these in school (or ever), but I love the way he makes them accessible.

  2. When we lived in Valdosta, there was a big white house on a hill that I passed often while running errands. They kept peafowl. Ever since then I've wanted to live in a big white house on hill and have peafowl on the lawn, so when I learned, several years ago, that Flannery O'Connor's home was like that, I decided to try her again (I'd read one short story in college and didn't like it). I've still only read that one story, "Revelation," and I've read it often enough now that I know why I didn't like, and why it still bothers me -- she points her finger at me. At my sin. Not at my icky sins, but at the sins I like to think of as virtues.

  3. I find that part of Georgia incredibly interesting. The terrain is not pretty and yet there is something Gothic going on there that partly must explain Flannery. It certainly plays havoc with my imagination.

    What a fun trip!!

  4. I want to eat lunch at the Blue Willow! It looks amazing. :)

    You sound like you had an amazing education growing up.

  5. Such an important reminder - to remember, recognise and realise is far more important that to criticise. In fact, I'm not sure if we have the right to criticise before we have made a sincere effort to do the first three.