Literary reading is in dramatic decline with fewer than half of American adults now reading literature, according to a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) survey released today. Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America reports drops in all groups studied, with the steepest rate of decline - 28 percent - occurring in the youngest age groups.
The study also documents an overall decline of 10 percentage points in literary readers from 1982 to 2002, representing a loss of 20 million potential readers. The rate of decline is increasing and, according to the survey, has nearly tripled in the last decade. The findings were announced today by NEA Chairman Dana Gioia during a news conference at the New York Public Library.
We have a shot of the Black family tree. And to visualize it, we needed more than the four or five names (in the book). And I called Jo up, and 15 minutes later, a drawing arrived of the Black family tree with 75 names and five generations.
However Blair repaid the efforts that were put in for him in very poor coin. “A very small boy, with a very large chip on his shoulder”, was how Mum Wilkes recalled young Eric Blair. This perception might be confirmed by reading Orwell’s distorted description of the school in an essay he wrote based on it. In spite of or perhaps because of all they did for him, Orwell hated the Wilkes and he wrote about them in a piece so libellous it could not be published while they were alive. He was obviously a confused and paranoid child with serious attitude problems compounded by intellectual snobbery. Mum’s overwhelming motherliness and Lewis’s conscientious work ethic must have jarred on him.
The boys of the scholarship class were not all treated alike. If a boy were the son of rich parents to whom the saving of fees was not all-important, Sambo would goad him along in a comparatively fatherly way, with jokes and digs in the ribs and perhaps an occasional tap with the pencil, but no hair-pulling and no caning. It was the poor but ‘clever’ boys who suffered. Our brains were a gold-mine in which he had sunk money, and the dividends must be squeezed out of us. Long before I had grasped the nature of my financial relationship with Sambo, I had been made to understand that I was not on the same footing as most of the other boys. In effect there were three castes in the school. There was the minority with an aristocratic or millionaire background, there were the children of the ordinary suburban rich, who made up the bulk of the school, and there were a few underlings like myself, the sons of clergyman, Indian civil servants, struggling widows and the like. These poorer ones were discouraged from going in for ‘extras’ such as shooting and carpentry, and were humiliated over clothes and petty possessions. I never, for instance, succeeded in getting a cricket bat of my own, because ‘Your parents wouldn't be able to afford it’. This phrase pursued me throughout my schooldays. At St Cyprian's we were not allowed to keep the money we brought back with us, but had to ‘give it in’ on the first day of term, and then from time to time were allowed to spend it under supervision. I and similarly-placed boys were always choked off from buying expensive toys like model aeroplanes, even if the necessary money stood to our credit. Flip, in particular, seemed to aim consciously at inculcating a humble outlook in the poorer boys. ‘Do you think that's the sort of thing a boy like you should buy?’ I remember her saying to somebody — and she said this in front of the whole school: ‘You know you're not going to grow up with money, don't you? Your people aren't rich. You must learn to be sensible. Don't get above yourself!’ There was also the weekly pocket-money, which we took out in sweets, dispensed by Flip from a large table. The millionaires had a sixpence a week, but the normal sum was threepence. I and one or two others were only allowed twopence. My parents had not given instructions to this effect, and the saving of a penny a week could not conceivably have made any difference to them: it was a mark of status. Worse yet was the detail of the birthday cakes. It was usual for each boy, on his birthday, to have a large iced cake with candles, which was shared out at tea between the whole school. It was provided as a matter of routine and went on his parents’ bill. I never had such a cake, though my parents would have paid for it readily enough. Year after year, never daring to ask, I would miserably hope that his year a cake would appear. Once or twice I even rashly pretended to my companions that this time I was going to have a cake. Then came tea-time, and no cake, which did not make me more popular.
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