What do you mean by "rich oral tradition"?   Is the modern urban myth part
of this rich oral tradition?  When does common gossip become "rich oral
tradition",  when the common gossipers are illiterate and members of a
government defined minority?  Can a visually identifiable but illiterate
member of the majority have a "rich oral tradition"   i.e..,  are Red Necks
as good a place to find "rich oral tradition" as Hispanics in a barrio?

I think most illiterates have no more a "rich oral tradition" than most
literates regularly read well crafted mind expanding literature.  Because of
this I think that it would be difficult to find a"rich oral tradition" as a
niche within a larger literate one.  The minds that would be drawn into
intimate interrelationship with a "rich oral tradition" would be attracted
to the greater universe of literacy.  Literacy is not that difficult.  As
Phillis Wheatley, illiterate slave turned poet, showed,  the attraction of
literacy to capable minds is irresistible.

I think well crafted and mind expanding literature acts directly in the
lives of a literate and thoughtful minority.  It acts less directly and more
indirectly in the greater portion of a literate society and indirectly in
the lives of every illiterate.  Literature is bound to affect all who
directly or indirectly contact it.  An example would be the number of
Americans who know of the Constitution, are capable of reading it and have,
that literate majority who have not and those Americans who know of the
constitution and could not read it.  All have been affected y it.  Another
example would be the elite position of the professional scribe in highly
illiterate countries.  Literature and especially good literature seems
irresistable to humans.

Rick Seddon
McIntosh, NM, USA
-----Original Message-----
From: [log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Tuesday, August 28, 2001 2:45 PM
Subject: Re: Essays In Criticism

>An observation by Eliot in the essay caught my eye:
>"It is the function of a literary review to maintain the autnomy and
disinterestedness of literature, and at the same time to exhibit the
relations of literature -- not to 'life,' as something contrasted to
literature, but to all the other activities, which, together with
literature, are the components of life."  (From The Function of a Literary
Review (1923).
>This stikes me as simple, brilliant and true.  But a counterpoint comes to
mind: is "literature" a part of life for those who do not read it?  Which in
turn raises a narrower question: does literature play any part in the life
of illiterate people?  More specifically (to carve out communities with a
rich oral tradition), what role, if any, does literature play in the lives
of illiterate persons in socities where the large majority of persons are
>Is anyone aware of works considering this subject?  Any thoughts on the
>Tom K