Andrey (azangru) wrote,


John McWhorter, Stanford University:

I want you to think about the 1941 Loony Tune, it's called Hiawatha's Rabbit Hunt, and it has a really beautiful opening, in its way, where Bugs Bunny is chomping on his carrot, and he's reading Longfellow's poem, The Song of Hiawatha:

That is a scene that is more interesting than we often think. For a very simple reason: why is he reading a poem? Bugs Bunny is a pretty casual... can't say person, but being, he is this vernacular sort, - and so why would he be reading a poem on what looks like a happy Saturday afternoon? That, in fact, is an interesting gesture, because it reveals a difference between the mainstream culture of 1941 and today's that we wouldn't often be aware of, and that is, quite simply, the role of poetry in general.
Russians today, even today... something that you notice about many Russians is that a person who may not even be a super book-oriented person will, because of the educational system until at least recently in the Soviet Union, and even when it became Russia, regularly immersed people in Pushkin, and so I've seen this many times that a Russian would suddenly just spout Pushkin out at you over their cigarette, or whatever they are doing, whereas, for example, an American is much less likely to be able to spout some Robert Frost. There are people who can do it but not as often as Russians who can spout their Pushkin. And the reason for this is that poetry in the past several decades... has retreated in our lives.

Как Russian из поколения Пепси, совершенно неспособный spout his Pushkin at you, полностью согласен с докладчиком.

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