"The spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings” is Wordsworth’s definition to literature. Literature is important because it offers new creative ways to interpret the world. We all perceive the physical world differently and assign different meanings to what we see and experience. When someone perceives order and meaning in what they see, they want to write down their perception, spontaneous overflow of powerful meaning, to communicate it to other people. What they write down is LITERATURE.
When we dip into the rich variety of novels, poems, and plays which constitute English literature, we are reading works which have lasted for generations, or centuries, and they have lasted because they are good. These works say something worth saying. Their beauty captures people’s attention and satisfies their souls. This beauty does not lie only on WHAT is said, but HOW it is said????
Literature is part of our cultural heritage which is freely available to everyone, and which can enrich our lives in all kinds of ways. The works can be entertaining, beautiful, funny, or tragic. They convey profundity of thought, richness of emotion, and insight into character. They take us beyond or limited experience of life to show us the lives of other people at other times. They stir us intellectually and emotionally, and deepen our understanding of our history, our society, and our own individual lives.
We do not have to read far before we find that a writer has portrayed a character that is in some way like us, confronting life-experiences in some way like our own. And when we find ourselves caught up with the struggles of a character perhaps we are rehearsing the struggles to come in our own lives. And when we are moved by a poem, it can enrich us by putting words to feelings which had lain dormant for lack of a way of expressing them, or been long-forgotten in the daily round of the workplace, the supermarket, the traffic jam an the T.V news.
So, whether we choose to study it or to read it for pleasure, when we look back over our literature, we are looking back over incredible richness. Not just museum pieces, but living works which we can buy in bookshops, borrow from the library, or download from the internet and read it today, right now.
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