Macchars don’t wear sweaters

Literature

Posted on: August 10, 2010

I recently heard Chomsky say in an interview “there is probably more to be learnt about human nature from literature than scientific studies”. True knowledge of the human soul is indeed to be found only in literature. A friend had once said “i don’t read books. what are books but stories”. But the best literature is not amusing stories intended merely to entertain us.  A piecing together of these events and those characters. It is an expression of what is most intimate to any human. Although conveyed through the medium of stories, literature captures a direct, raw reaction to Life. We all learn something from life, never our stated learning, and it is this learning, the subtlest of impressions, that are expressed in literature. Everybody’s life is a story. A story that deserves telling. A story of deeply held hopes, aspirations and desires, of first love and betrayal, or love never found, of success, of loss, of relationships forged, of relationships broken, of reaction to beauty, art and nature, the tragedy of hopes dashed or never realized, of disappointment and joy, the striving to find dignity and self affirmation no matter what the situation, the inner struggle for meaning.

It is this part of us which finds resonance in literature. It is perhaps personal knowledge that is communicated only through literature. Thoughts and feeling that are probably never directly communicated to others, and would simply disappear after us.

What dead statistics can ever capture this living subject?

It is this which distinguishes a Chetan Bhagat from an Anton Chekov. At a certain level, even a Chetan Bhagat captures this knowledge, though superficially.

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4 Responses to "Literature"

If we go by Jung and Co, every human beings is all human beings. Literature, at least the better sort, is a representation of reality, actual and potential. A work of art, therefore is a mirror wherein one can glimpse one’s own self, so we are actually reading about ourselves. A sage writes: “The eighty four thousand volumes of sutras are the diaries of one’s own life.” Darshan Singh Maini used to say that Shakespeare was God’s spy, that is, a mind so expansive as to understand almost the entire spectrum of humanity– prince, pauper and villain(a bit short of saintliness though, since that is probably a myth). Chekhov is certainly a great writer–one can’t help admiring his prose as well as his psychological insight.

Very well said.

Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man.

http://www.authorama.com/essays-of-francis-bacon-50.html

I think every creative endeavour, a book, a film, a painting gives its audience more of a truthful representation of the human condition than a mere observational study ever can. It appeals to us as you rightly said becoz it communicates personal knowledge on a deeper (for lack of a better word) level and perhaps it takes a certain receptiveness on our part also to understand and appreciate and decide for ourselves the importance of what has been shared with us. Perhaps that is why not all can appreciate a Chekhov just as many cannot admire a Chetan Bhagat.

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