I am a card-carrying member of  ‘the clerisy,’ though I don’t wear robes. It’s a term resurrected by the Canadian writer Robertson Davies to describe the community of readers who are passionate about reading and writing.

“Who are the clerisy? They are people who like to read books….The use of a word so unusual, so out of fashion, can only be excused on the ground that it has no familiar synonym. The word is little known because what it describes has disappeared, though I do not believe that it has gone forever. The clerisy are those who read for pleasure, but not for idleness; who read for pastime, but not to kill time; who love books, but do not live by books. As lately as a century ago the clerisy had the power to decide the success or failure of a book, and it could do so now. But the clerisy has been persuaded to abdicate its power by several groups, not themselves malign or consciously unfriendly to literature, which are part of the social and business organization of our time. These groups, though entrenched, are not impregnable; if the clerisy would arouse itself, it could regain its sovereignty in the world of letters. For it is to the clerisy, even yet, that the authors, the publishers, and the booksellers make their principal appeal.

Thanks for checking out this continuing exploration of what makes great writing great. I tend to post in bursts, depending on whim and the demands of life; keep checking back or use one of those RSS thingies. If you’d like to get in touch, please do so at gkDOTharrisATgmailDOTcom.

Greg Harris

3 Responses to “About Prose Parsed”


  1. 1 Ada Branham November 6, 2008 at 8:27 am

    U make the graphices a like 2 much some people might take it affences

  2. 2 proseparsed November 6, 2008 at 8:49 am

    Hmmm…thanks, but I’m not sure how to parse your comment, Ada. More info, please….

  3. 3 Marsha November 7, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    Hi Greg, I thought you’d stop writing. Glad to see your return in Oct. Marsha


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