Mason Cooley: Literary Lies About Poverty

Posted by admin on Saturday, September 29, 2018

Mason Cooley Money Quote saying authors have made the poor into unlikely colorful and routinely cheerful characters. Mason Cooley said:
 
Literary tradition is full of lies about poverty — the jolly beggar, the poor but happy milkmaid Quote
 

“Literary tradition is full of lies about poverty — the jolly beggar, the poor but happy milkmaid, the wholesome diet of porridge, etc.” — Mason Cooley

 

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In this quote, Mason Cooley seems to be criticizing how literature has often portrayed and romanticized poverty inaccurately. Some key points:

  • He notes that many works in “literary tradition” contain “lies about poverty”, meaning they do not provide realistic or truthful depictions.
  • Cooley gives examples like the “jolly beggar” trope, implying poverty is often shown as somehow enjoyable or even amusing in stories.
  • Similarly, the “poor but happy milkmaid” archetype suggests impoverishment can coexist with contentment, which Cooley doubts.
  • Even “the wholesome diet of porridge” is referenced as an unrealistic literary cliche about poverty, when in reality diets of the poor tend to be less nutritious

Overall, Cooley appears to believe much classic literature provides dishonest, sanitized or even idealized views of poverty that do not ring true to actual lived experiences of lack and the daily struggles it imposes. For Cooley, “literary tradition” contains misleading falsehoods rather than honest portrayals of poverty’s difficulties and hardships.

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