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The Devil Knows Latin: Why America Needs the Classical Tradition [Paperback]

Our Price $ 12.71  
Retail Value $ 14.95  
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Item Number 295408  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   344
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 5.5" Height: 8"
Weight:   1 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Publisher   ISI Books
ISBN  1882926579  
EAN  9781882926572  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Whether discussing the importance of Greek and Latin syntax to our society, examining current trends in literary theory, education, and politics, or applying a classical perspective to contemporary films, Christian Kopff is at home and on the mark.

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More About E. Christian Kopff

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! E. Christian Kopff, Associate Director of the Honors Program at the University of Colorado, Boulder, is the editor of a Greek edition of Euripides' "Bacchae."

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1Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > General   [10703  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Sociology > General   [17199  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Everyone should read this!  Apr 24, 2008
This book is an insightful look at why we, as a society, have been going in a downward spiral while insisting we are moving forward. When you don't know where you've been, you can't possibly know where you're headed.
The Deaf West  Jul 5, 2007
This book is plea for a return to the ancient languages that all past scholarly work was written in, with humanity as its aim. We don't study English so that we can boast, but so that we understand the complexity and beauty that it perfectly lends itself to. Latin and Greek don't exist in a vacuum, but as a tool to uncover the thoughts and values of our(like it or not) Western heritage. To this end Kopff, deftly shows us what our ancient parentage learned; if we are wise, we'll listen. He admonishes us to proudly own our classical tradition, without haughtiness, but understanding its definate intrinsic elitism. Libertity,maturity,and humane democratic ideals, by virtue, are lofty and noble; mandatory to continued freedom. Notice, that he did write in the vernacular to rouse a sleepy complacency.
Mens insana  Oct 4, 2001
This book fails in a number of ways to bring classics into civilized discourse. Firstly, the author tries to argue for a classical curriculum as a basis for appreciating Christianity and the founding documents of the United States. In the case of religion, the argument is uncontroversial, but not well restated in this book. In the case of politics, the argument is extremely slippery, and the author tries to maintain it anecdotally, through nostalgic discussions of nineteenth-century American puritans. He realizes that many of America's virtues come from a specifically English-language tradition, but he dismisses that tradition in actually calling for the elimination of English in the high school curriculum. Yet it is hard to imagine such an irreverent book as this written in any language other than English.
Secondly, as a justification for the classics themselves, the author turns to Hollywood movies. His insights on films like "The Unforgiven" and "The Godfather" are quite good, but his methodology suffers in trying to meld the commercialism of Hollywood with the elitism (as he freely admits) of his classical curriculum. Again, the author is silent on the fundamental Anglo-Americanism of his outlook. For this reason, this book, which is styled as a work of corrective pedagogy aimed at young people and interested adults, essentially lies about its own origins, which are not in antiquity or ancient Christianity, but in Anglo-Saxon commercialism, religious nonconformity in old and New England, and English and American political traditions. The book, however, does partly succeed as a work of scholarship, and deserves one star for its compelling readings of Hollywood movies and one and a half stars for the author's quirkily wide learning, for a total of three stars, after rounding.
Interesting ideas/strangely reserached  Sep 28, 2000
This work smacks of snobbery and elitism. That said, what Christian Kpoff proposes, a return of the West to her classical ideals and customs, is not as absurd as it might first seem.

The Devil Knows Latin explores some interesting areas and even gets bold enough to attack those Kpoff sees as actively working against (what's left of) classical European culture in the modern West. Unfortunately, figuring out where, why and how Kpoff found the basis for his hypothesis of cultural disintegration, is a frustrating process. While Kpoff is a good writer, his interpretation of history is both disjointed and incorrect in places. For instance, Kpoff manages to denounce the German National Socialist movement -a philosophical/political entity that overtly, often grotesquely championed Europe's classical past. This is overwhelmingly evident in the classical architecture, classical art, classical-like literature, music and school curriculum advocated by that regime. Nazi Germany, in many, many respects, was the last gasp of classical Europe. I mention this one example because Kpoff's complete failure to recognize this is utterly stunning and unforgivable.

I would recommend this book just because Kpoff has some interesting ideas. Hopefully someday another author will take Kpoff's theme, run with it, and put this information into a more coherent, practical format.

A sad defense of the past  Jun 13, 2000
Kopff is that most tired of writers who gives us moral medicine with the wit and wisdom only he finds witty or wise. Through references to popular culture, semi-literate asides, and the occasional dropping of a name to hint at a point that is never quite made, Kopff is supposed to seem to us an intelligent and well-read man who sees all sides and knows what the world needs in order to survive.

The book reads often like a freshman English paper, loaded with references to whatever novels, comic books, newspapers and matchbooks a student may have glanced at in a given day. One could imagine the author sitting down with a copy of Bartlett's Quotations, thumbing through with a vague notion for a book, and a deadline drawing near.

Within the first five pages Kopff takes a stand against Nietzsche and "the intellectual leaders of our age" who supposedly stand with him (a surprising revelation to Nietzsche scholars the world over), and informs us that tradition is the equivalent of a goldfish swimming in a goldfish bowl. The way he sees it, his Nietzschean opponents would free the goldfish to flop about on a table. "The goldfish bowl," he tells us, "keeps us alive." It's most telling that Kopff can't see that to free a goldfish one would first find a river or a pond.

The problem with Kopff's view of the classical tradition is precisely that he sees the world as a goldfish bowl, and not as a river. His world is unchanging, but for the will of the Christian god, who plays prominently in the book, and weighs in heavily, yet stealthily, in Kopff's vision of the Classical tradition.

This is really a book about antebellum American values and regional biogtry. Kopff is no fair representative of our field.


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