Everyone in the blogosphere seems to be up and down nodding vigorously at some article in the Sunday Times about literary deal-breakers in relationships. When I say “everyone” I mean Hugo and references therein. And when I say “literary deal-breakers” I mean something along the lines of:
“Some years ago, I was awakened early one morning by a phone call from a friend. She had just broken up with a boyfriend she still loved and was desperate to justify her decision. “Can you believe it!” she shouted into the phone. “He hadn’t even heard of Pushkin!””
I’ll never understand how can people justify to themselves their snobism without calling upon it. They kinda defend themselves by claiming that judging on the basis of literary taste is no different from judging on the basis of any other hobby or interest. But guess what, it is. When you change “literature” for, let’s say, to keep the comparison valid, any other high school subject, it all breaks down. Can someone in the Biology field get away with saying something like “Can you believe it? He doesn’t know what the pancreas is for!”. Or someone in the Physics department coming up with “How can I have a future with someone who doesn’t know what Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle is? *snif*”. No, and no. Funny how it only seems to work with “literature”.
What would happen if we instead change “literature” for another hobby? Hugo has attempted to do it with music. I’ll try to apply it to one of my all time favourite interests: Disney movies. Oh, yes. I can see myself saying with a straight face “I cannot believe he doesn’t know who Mrs Potts and Sebastian are! *sob*”. I am sure that kind of judgement will be deemed very reasonable.
So it doesn’t work with “any” hobby or interest. Only those with a “posh” sounding ring will do.
Let’s be honest here. For a long, long time, the only people who had access to literature were the privileged aristocrats. The elites. The crème de la crème of society. The whole literature = “(high) class” equation got stuck and it haunts us til today.
So remember, folks. Judging people for their tastes on snob pastimes like “literature” is OK. You are not trying to get away with a valid justification for feeling superior to everyone else on this world a.k.a. “the masses”. Nope, not at all.