I have no idea if this is a fair appraisal of the Elizabethan stance on book learning, but I have an impression of a robust, exuberant, poetic spirit, capable of savouring sweetness even when regularly confronted with brutality.
My impression itself may be overly poetic, but there it is, I don’t pretend to be an expert on the Elizabethans. I welcome any fine insights and correctives from more learned readers.
‘They had none of our modern shame of book learning; none of our belief that to be born the son of a butcher is a blessing and to be unable to read a virtue; no fancy that what we call ‘life’ and ‘reality’ are somehow connected with ignorance and brutality; nor, indeed, any equivalent for these two words at all.’
Source: Virginia Woolf, Orlando: A Biography, ed. with an introduction by Rachel Bowlby (Oxford: World’s Classics, 1992), p. 30
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