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::Acquired Taste Facts
It is difficult to establish when the term 'acquired taste' came into the language. Joseph Addison (1672-1719) is recorded as using the phrase 'the acquirement of a taste'.
The first recorded use of the phrase 'acquired taste' in the Oxford English Dictionary is attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson in 1856: "I find the sea-life an acquired taste, like that for tomatoes and olives." (Voyage to England)
The term 'acquired taste' refers to an something which is not immediately pleasurable on first acquaintance, but which with perseverance becomes rewarding. The example usually given in dictionaries, for some reason, is the martini.
Lying behind the notion of acquired taste is the idea that the taste we are born with is not necessarily the highest level we can achieve. By careful training, taste can be developed or acquired. Whether this represents a move towards a more refined level of appreciation, or simply a fossilisation of taste into prejudice, is open to debate.
Literature which is too easily accessible is clearly not an acquired taste. Books we love on first reading very often fail to maintain their appeal over the years. Writing where we have to work harder to begin with is more likely to prove durable.