Why Not Literature? Essay

1135 words - 5 pages

A simple open ended question that leads to countless possibilities, from the quick response of “why not literature” to a response pulled from the depths of critical thought and much conjecture. Throughout history literature has helped form the social context of our society greatly. Some say literature is dying a slow death. What is to happen if the old standards of literary excellent are removed from high schools and universities. In our text book, Literature: The Human Experience, David Foster Wallace one of the contributors wrote in preface for instructors:
“We all suffer alone in the real world; true empathy's impossible. But if a piece of fiction can allow us imaginatively to ...view middle of the document...

Mandela chose a passage from Julius Caesar, just before Caesar leaves for the senate to autograph; it includes the lines: “Cowards die many times before their deaths/The valiant never taste of death but once”. (McKenzie)
After 27 years of imprisonment Mandela is finally freed. Instead of him displaying a bitterness towards the Afrikaans who took his freedom he works with them to form a new South Africa. The literary works he read in prison had to have an influence on the man he became. With the recent death of Mandela people all over the world will be compelled to read about his life of work. Just as with literature, something in his story might inspire someone to look beyond their own plight in society and grasp hold of something greater.
Literature is much more than words on paper bound between cardboard. When you read between the lines you my find new meaning. In Philip Larkin works you often find a poet and his use of the vernacular a little strange or unsettling at times. Sparking my interest I decided to research Larkin in a little more depth and didn't like what I found. Although I found Larkin lacking the human qualities I still respect his work. Before English 2030 I would have never imagine me reading some of the works we studied. I have read Paul's 1 Corinthians 13 before but never analyzed the meaning of the words. The last verse “So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” That verse could sum up the latter half of our love and death portion of our curriculum. Today people are accustomed to thinking of love as a feeling or an emotion. It was explained to me that agape is love because of what it does, not because of how it feels. This might be shocking to you but I never thought of the Bible as literature before this course. “Harlem”, by Langston Hughes caused me to search the back drop of the screen. I found out about the accounts of riots in Harlem before Hughes wrote the piece. I'm was transfixed by those eleven lines. Good literature transports you, having you yearning for more as Hughes did with “Harlem”. According Mario Vargas Llosa, contributing writer with, The New Republic, “According to this widespread conception, literature is a dispensable activity, no doubt lofty and useful for cultivating sensitivity and good...

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