Quotation by Ruth Benedict

... no book ... ever competed with the Bible. The story of Ruth was better than Ramona, and the poetry of Job was better than Longfellow. I still have my first big Bible, carefully underlined through with red and black ink, and interleafed [sic] with painfully written manuscript pages.... Margery and I earned our five cents a week for church and a penny for Sunday school by learning three verses of the Bible a day and six on Sunday. We learned dozens and dozens of chapters. I supposed "Evangeline" and "Hiawatha" were better poetry, but I didn't like them so well.
Ruth Benedict (1887–1948), U.S. anthropologist. An Anthropologist at Work, part 2 (1959).

From "The Story of My Life," written in 1935. She was remembering the favorite childhood reading of herself and her sister, Margery. Ramona (1884) was a popular historical romance by Helen Hunt Jackson; "Evangeline" (1847) and "Hiawatha" (1855) were beloved narrative poems by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Benedict's childhood taste was discerning; there is critical consensus that the language of the King James translation of the Bible, which she was probably reading, is far superior to Longfellow's....
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