Sir Philip Sidney laid out three goods of literature: it teaches, delights, and moves. In this essay, I do not mean to deny the power of delight in attracting readers to texts and students to English classes. After all, as Walker Percy (1991a: 246) says, “When all is said and done, a novel is only a story, and, unlike pathology, a story is supposed first, last, and always to give pleasure to the reader.” At the same time, I believe it is the possibility of changing readers (a mixture of both teaching and moving) that draws most students—wherein I understand students to be a group of people roughly between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two, unsure what exactly life has in store for them or they for it, and so existing in a state of (relative) openness, sorting out plausible reasons to move in one direction or another.
 So, for example, describing two boys wrestling with him only two pages later, he writes, they “disdained deodorant, and delighted in mashing my face into their armpits for the sheer Walt Whitmanesque celebration of it, and . . . roared extempore Songs of Their Selfs afterward, gloating over how much older and taller I was” (2002: 203).
 One is free to disagree with my interpretation of The Duchess of Malfi and its worldview, but in so doing, the debate will have been begun as to the claims of The Duchess of Malfi. I do not mean to imply that one will be right and the other will be wrong, as if texts had only one claim to make and once it was discovered the text itself could be shucked. A text exhibits many claims cast by its overarching worldview—a worldview that itself is open to debate. What I am attempting to maintain, however, is the attachment between debates concerning the text itself and the claims that the text makes upon its readers.
 Notice, please, that I am not suggesting that professors answer such questions on behalf of their students, or use literature as a set of didactic tracts to teach students how to live the life a certain professor considers best. Questions must be raised within the bounds of the text; let students answer such questions on their own grounds.
 “And then a rocket sprang and bang shot blind blank and O! then the Roman candle burst and it was like a sigh of Oh! and everyone cried O! O! in raptures and it gushed out of it a stream of rain gold hair threads and they shed and ah! they were all greeny dewy stars falling with golden, O so lovely, O, soft, sweet, soft!” (1986: 300).
 I once heard of an Irish fellow who first bought and read Ulysses because he spotted it in a store that sold pornographic books. A good teacher could explain that Ulysses criticizes precisely the fiction it was placed with on the shelf.
Abbot, Andrew. 2002. “The Aims of Education Address.” University of Chicago Record, 21 November, 4–8.
Augustine. 1991. Confessions, trans. Henry Chadwick. New York: Oxford University Press.
Calvino, Italo. 1993. Six Memos for the Next Millennium. New York: Vintage International.
Delbanco, Andrew. 1999. “The Decline and Fall of Literature.” New York Review of Books 46: 32–38.
Dickinson, Emily. 1963. The Poems of Emily Dickinson, ed. Thomas Johnson. Vol. 2. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University.
Duncan, David James. 2002. The River Why. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books.
Eliot, George. 2000. Middlemarch. New York: Modern Library.
Joyce, James. 1986. Ulysses. New York: Vintage Books.
Percy, Walker. 1991a. “Accepting the National Book Award for The Moviegoer.” In Signposts in a Strange Land, ed. Patrick Samway, 245–46. New York: Picador.
———. 1991b. “Why Are You Catholic?” In Signposts in a Strange Land, ed. Patrick Samway, 304–15. New York: Picador.
Richter, David. 1998. The Critical Tradition: Classic Texts and Contemporary Trends. 2nd ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s.
Webster, John. 1927. The Complete Works of John Webster, ed. F. L. Lucas. Vol. 2. London: Chatto and Windus.
1) Title image: Photo by Dollar Gill on Unsplash (lightly retouched)
2) Library Stacks: Photo by Ali Bergen on Unsplash
3) Fanned Book: Photo by Mishaal Zahed on Unsplash
4) Students: Photo by Alexis Brown on Unsplash
5)Middlemarch cover: George Eliot, Public domain via Project Gutenberg- https://www.gutenberg.org/files/145/145-h/145-h.htm
6) Stacked books: Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash
7) The Duchess of Malfi – Title page: John Webster, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
8) Ulysses 1st edition cover: James Joyce, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
9) In conclusion/Scattered Books: Photo by Gülfer ERGİN on Unsplash