In the BBC Magazine author Will Self has contributed In Defence of Obscure Words, an article full of lesser used words.
Never read Self myself, so don't know the level to which he showcases his vocabulary, but I think I broadly agree with what he's saying here. His reference to Booker judges wanting "a jolly good read" is likely just a dig at the recent prize, where the judges openly said it, although recent years have seen what I would consider a more judging by numbers approach.In the literary world, books intended for child readers are repackaged and sold to kidult ones, while even notionally highbrow arbiters - such as Booker judges - are obsessed by that nauseous confection "a jolly good read". That Shakespeare remains our national writer is, frankly, bizarre, given that with his recondite vocabulary, myriad historical references, and convoluted metaphorical language, were he to be seeking publication in the current milieu, his sonnets and plays would undoubtedly also be branded as 'too difficult'.
When Self talks of McKnowledge being imparted to kids these days, it's hard to know what can be done when more than half of primary teachers 'are unable to name three poets'. When I was at school, I remember studying William Shakespeare, Robert Burns, and Edwin Morgan, all three of whom used language that is either outdated or in dialect. Back then the teachers were older, of an earlier generation that knew and loved what they were teaching. Not saying that teachers nowadays don't love what they teach, but I suspect that what's taught is watered down because, as it's regularly reporting exam passes are higher, exam pass marks are lower.
On difficult books, I do note the differences in approach. When I've told people I won't read Harry Potter novels because it's for kids and I'm not a kid, I get strange looks as if I've sat myself on some sort of pedestal. Not true. However, when they talk about what I read - which is really what I've just found that I like to read over years of reading - my books get called weird rather than difficult. Or pretentious; that old favourite empty statement.
No real argument here, on my part. Just thinking aloud and bring the article to the forum's attention.