George Eliot Conversates

I think I'm in love:


"Are you beginning to dislike slang, then?" said Rosamond, with mild gravity. 

"Only the wrong sort. All choice of words is slang. It marks a class." 

"There is correct English: that is not slang." 

 "I beg your pardon: correct English is the slang of prigs who write history and essays. And the strongest slang of all is the slang of poets."

That last line is the dagger. 

One of the great things about my trip through the Western canon is the way I've seen so much of what I considered to be "street knowledge" confirmed as simply "knowledge."  I came up different. My canon was Baldwin, Hurston, Armah, Morrison, James, Soyinka, Rodney, Diop, Baraka, Neal etc. I was told that these writers and scholars reflected my world, and I loved them--still love of them.

But so much of the best of them is just the best of humanity. I can't really condemn nationalism. It allowed me to read Middlemarch, the way white people read Their Eyes Were Watching God. With privilege and a certain, if not total, security, Some of my own canon stays with me, some of it less so. But the best of it, the portion that endures, is confirmed by my travels.

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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