Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The elephant would have been less contentious, surely

Harvard once considered hiring Nabokov to teach literature; Roman Jakobson, then a professor of linguistics there, is supposed to have asked whether the university was also prepared to hire an elephant to teach zoology.

-- Louis Menand, "Show or Tell: Should creative writing be taught?"

... The anecdote may carry a little more force for those who recognize Jakobson as a structuralist whose work held out the prospect of a scientific study of literature (a prospect more often mentioned than achieved).

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