Posted August 10, 2010on:
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.