Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Wragg is in custody

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Blog. I do not blog. I have never read a blog. When I hear the word blog, when I say it out loud I am reminded of a section in Matthew Arnold's essay, "The Function of Criticism at the Present Time." He has just quoted a certain Mr. Roebuck (a sloganeer, a kind of booster, a Professor Florida of his day) who has said, speaking of the Anglo-Saxon people, his fellow citizens... "Such a race of people as we stand, so superior to all the world...." Roebuck really did believe his own cheer leading (as we do ours), he did believe that the Anglo-Saxons were "The best breed in the whole world." And then, while musing on this boosterism, so prevalent in his country, in his empire, Arnold says that he stumbled on a little story in the newspaper: "A shocking child murder has just been committed at Nottingham. A girl named Wragg left the workhouse there on Saturday morning with her young illegitimate child. The child was soon afterwards found dead on Mapperly Hills, having been strangled. Wragg is in custody." Nothing but that, says Arnold. Wragg. Wragg. But "if we are to talk of the best in the whole world," he goes on, "has anyone reflected what a touch of grossness in our shown by the natural growth amongst us of such hideous names,- Stiggins, Bugg...remember; - the gloom, the smoke, the cold, the strangled illegitimate child.... And the final touch,- short, bleak and inhuman: Wragg is in custody. The sex lost in the confusion of our unrivaled Anglo-Saxon happiness. There is profit for the spirit in such contrasts as this..." says Matthew Arnold. Yes indeed. Such contrasts. Blog. A place for thought. Blog. A place for reflection while even as we speak Wragg is in custody?

To be continued.

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Barry Callaghan

Barry Callaghan is an award-winning author, poet, editor and publisher. He is one of Canada’s most preeminent men of letters. His most recent collection of short stories, Between Trains, was published by McArthur & Company in 2007.

Go to Barry Callaghan’s Author Page