This book is for people who, like ourselves, believe in culture -- in its existence and commercial value. It is for people who still believe in the "canon," that great body of learning and literature that has guided study and cultural debate for the last couple of thousand years. The canon has come under fire recently as the tired legacy of a small clique of dead white European males, most of whom rarely bathed and suffered from terrible gum disease. This is a book for those who disagree, those who strongly believe that Hegel remains as incomprehensible today as he was two centuries ago, and that Shakespeare is still as rewarding and relevant as SpongeBob.
This is also a book for scholars, students, and all those who have chosen to dedicate their existence to intellectual pursuits in a deeply anti-intellectual age. As professors writing about the rewards of learning, we hope to show that there is more to life than generous remuneration, social prestige, political power, erotic adventure, and basic happiness.
And yet, this is a book of modest ambition. Long ago we realized that we could not single-handedly reverse civilization's inexorable decline. We could, though, contribute to it. This is the path we have chosen. If we cannot revive the life of the mind from its increasingly vegetative state, then at least we could put a smile on the patient's face.
Copyright © 2004 by Lawrence Douglas and Alexander George