Friday, May 30, 2014


A reviewer, back in 1997, lamented that most of my material in A Dictionary of Proverbs, Spanish and English, was "British." I had compiled that dictionary with the English language in mind, not thinking about nationalities. Proverbs in English, I thought, do not carry passports.
Why this? Because it has been brought to my attention (Vicky Ascorve Harper) that Mr. Sean Griffiths mentions in The Sunday Times, 22 May, 2014, that Mr. Micael Gove, education secretary, has decided to drop American writers from the new English list of GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education). He wishes British students to read British writers.

Writers do have nationalities but their main allegiance is to language, regardless of place of birth. Naipaul, Patrick White, Alice Munro, Tagore, Yeats, G. Bernard Shaw, Hemingway... were born in Jamaica, Australia, Canada, India, Ireland, United Kingdom, United States of America... and yet we all read those Nobel Prize winners in English.  They have enriched the language and given it the importance and shine it now has. 

It is a mistake to ban writers because of their nationalities.

In my time I read some American writers who, in my teens, made a deep impression on me. Look them up and read one of their works.

John Steinbeck
J.D. Sallinger
Ernest Hemingway
Eugene O'Neal
Henry Miller
Arthur Miller
Tennessee Williams
James Baldwin
Erskine Caldwell
John O'Hara
Scott Fitzgerald

Emily Dickinson
William Carlos William
Robert Frost
T. S. Elliot 
Edna St. Vincent Millay

This is my personal short list of authors I read as a boy. All American.  All wrote in English. 


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