Monday, February 11, 2008

Classic Book Recommendation: Richard Henry Dana's Two Years Before the Mast

Would you like a great book recommendation, a book that is easily one of the very best achievements in American literature? Here it is: Two Years Before the Mast by young Richard Henry Dana, Jr. It was published in 1840 and was a huge success. I just finished reading it, and, believe me, it is one of the best books in American literature.

Yet, sadly, very few Americans have even heard of this book, which demonstrates the power that liberals and Marxists have had in censoring our great literary heritage. Having a Master of Education from University of Virginia, I know first hand the prevalency of censorship by Social Foundations education professors, and it is well documented by others.

It is time to take back our heritage. Unethical liberals and Marxists censor in very many subtle and underhanded ways. The chief way--ever since the late 1980's--has been to replace any piece of great literature by "dead white males" (the stupid, racist, and disparaging term these self-hating, liberals gleefully employ) and replace it with dull, shallow, "multicultural" pap.

It generally takes 50 years or so to declare a work a "classic" because it is all too hard to separate fad from greatness, as liberals are proof of. Of course, liberals automatically canonize anything new and "multicultural"as great. Then, they teach this junk, which means replacing truly great literature that has stood the test of time and generations.

Another way I have noticed liberals censor literature is by picking only literature that is most easily "deconstructed," in their opinion. To "deconstruct" a "text" for liberals and Marxists simply means to trick gullible students into believing that a "text" supports Marxist beliefs, when, in fact, none exists. You can often see this on the summaries on backs of books recently published, often to the most absurd degree. For example I've actually seen 1984 being advertised as a work that shows how "conformity" can cause a nightmarish regime. No, not communism or socialism but, rather, "conformity." Liberal professors and editors love to employ this trick on Charles Dickens' works, in which they often place a liberal, social message that simply is not the major component to his works. However, they would have gullible students believe that it is.

Another artful way that sneaky liberals and Marxists use to censor works is simply not to teach any uplifting works. For example, I never have understood why Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter is always taught in high schools and never his sunny, uplifting (and much better, in my opinion) The House of the Seven Gables. Why always F. Scott Fitzgerald's depressing The Great Gatsby and never Ray Bradbury's appealing, intriguing, and poignant Dandelion Wine and William Saroyan's The Human Comedy, with the same qualities?

Answer: Liberals and Marxists dislike students getting anything that uplifts the soul and makes students look at America with pride in her achievements and lifestyle. Therefore, they should only get gloomy and depressing Hemingway and Fitzgerald in modern American literature, for instance. Fitzgerald is great, but there is no reason why The Great Gatsby should always be taught. Of course, liberals love it to hoist some sort of anti-capitalism message upon students. Hemingway, though, I find to be grossly overrated, in comparison with other classic American literature.

The most prevalent way to deny our citizens our heritage, both Western and American, though, is to simply censor any works that have the least bit of objectionable, un-PC material. Entire works have disappeared from the corpus of great literature taught to students: Ivanhoe, The Royal Road to Romance, Brave New World, Typee, A Christmas Carol, The Three Musketeers, Pilgram's Progress, She Stoops to Conquer, Gone with the Wind, Robinson Crusoe, Kim, and Lord Jim come to mind. They all have scenes or attitudes that sanctimonious, insufferable liberals feel students should not be exposed to at all. Because these authors were not enlightened enough to espouse the modern liberal opinions of these postmodern gnostic censors, these works ought to be purged from our Brave New Liberal Utopia. Thanks to these intolerant liberals, much literature of great merit has been completely eliminated. An example in the
post just below is how many Americans have never even heard of Christina Rossetti's wonderful poem "In the Bleak Midwinter."

Richard Henry Dana's Two Years Before the Mast fits into this latter category. It is a magnificent work. Young Dana takes time off from Harvard College to join a merchant vessel bound from Boston for a two years voyage around Cape Horn to California in 1834 and 1835. He writes extremely eloquently about his adventures on board, the hard but rewarding work of a sailor, his impression of California and the Spanish and Indian natives there, and the often terrifying challenges at sea. For example, on the return voyage around the Cape in the middle of winter is terrifyingly suspenseful.

Two Years Before the Mast obviously has been banned by liberals because Dana's opinions on the lazy Californians does not conform to Marxism. In addition, he has a concluding chapter in which he proposes how the life of a seaman can be improved (and it sure isn't through big government). Education is important but not enough. It must include religion (censor time!): "With the sailor, as with all other men in fact, the cultivation of the intellect, and the spread of what is commonly called useful knowledge, while religious instruction is neglected, is little else than changing an ignorant sinner into a powerful one."
To Dana, knowledge of the tenets of the Bible and practicing them are necessary factors in improving lifestyle and character. He documents abuse of sailors, but he never portrays them as victims, something modern liberals and socialists would do.

Is this not evident today in the public schools, where the neglect of student character has allowed for all sorts of societal ills, from gangs to poverty to teen pregnancy to shallow consumerism? Thank you liberals, including Social Foundations education professors.

Two Years Before the Mast, one of the greatest achievements of American literature is unfortunately, thus, not well known. It has extremely valuable documentation on the lifestyle of 1830's California, the day-to-day work of a merchant sailor, and the adventure and danger of the seas that recommends it as a great American classic. The remarkable American character is evident in this book. Unfortunately, liberals have attempted to purge Two Years Before the Mast from the American canon. Thankfully, it was a recommended book on the "Ravitch-Atkinson Sampler of Classic Literature" found in the back of Diane Ravitch's excellent and highly recommended The Language Police, her bestselling expose on censorship in public schools.