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Thread: Why is it important to study literature?

  1. #1
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    Question Why is it important to study literature?

    Why is it important to study literature? Can u come up with any other reasons, beside the obvious ones that literature teches us about the world and other people, and reflects history?

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    Unlicensed Reader steve12553's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by faith
    Why is it important to study literature? Can u come up with any other reasons, beside the obvious ones that literature teches us about the world and other people, and reflects history?
    I hate to say this but your stated reasons are the seconday ones. You study literature for tha same reason that you read. That is to be exposed to new ideas and to be caused to think. New ideas and thought are the most important reasons to read or to study what has been written. Everything else is a side benefit.
    "...when you have eliminated the impossible whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth..."

  3. #3

    Yeah, that too...

    Y'know, when i first read a big time Russian novel, what so impressed me was that a 200 year old story seemed so immediately true, that it was talking about my life, right now and situations that i had observed real people to go through. Americans, even.. What makes the stuff great is its grasp of the human dilemna together with the rythym, meter and satisfaction of the writing itself, of the reading of it (why good translations matter!).
    Hope someone cares
    -shorebreak

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    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    How about: it's an art form, or more acurrately several art forms.
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

    Books are embalmed minds.

    My literature blog: http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/

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    Quote Originally Posted by steve12553
    I hate to say this but your stated reasons are the seconday ones. You study literature for tha same reason that you read. That is to be exposed to new ideas and to be caused to think. New ideas and thought are the most important reasons to read or to study what has been written. Everything else is a side benefit.
    It depends on who u are asking. New ideas and thought are good points thou.

  6. #6
    I once taught a poem called The Almond Tree by Jon Stallworthy to a class of 15 year olds.

    It’s about a man driving to the hospital where his wife is about to give birth to their first child. He is excited at the prospect and imagines his son at Oxbridge and lots of other wonderful things in his child’s future. When he gets there, he finds that his son has Down’s Syndrome. His reaction on being told is captured by:

    “How easily the word went in –
    clean as a bullet
    leaving no mark on the skin,
    stopping the heart within it.

    This was my first death.”

    He even goes as far as seeing the news as being told his son had died– which he had, I suppose, because the son he thought he’d have had gone. But he goes on to say:

    “wrenched from the caul of my thirty
    years' growing, fathered by my son,
    unkindly in a kind season
    by love shattered and set free.”

    The love he feels for his mongol son both shatters him and sets him free. He learns, I suppose, that genuine love is very hard, full of compromises and can be heartbreaking – but it’s real – and certainly far more real than the conventional, bland hopes he had for his son on the way to the hospital. The last stanza has been omitted by Stallworthy in later versions of the poem but I really like it:

    You turn to the window for the first time.
    I am called to the cot
    to see your focus shift,
    take tendril-hold on a shaft
    of sun, explore its dusty surface, climb
    to an eye you cannot

    meet. You have a sickness they cannot heal
    the doctors say: locked in
    your body you will remain.
    Well, I have been locked in mine.
    We will tunnel each other out. You seal
    the covenant with a grin.

    In the days we have known one another,
    my little mongol love,
    I have learnt more from your lips
    than you will from mine perhaps:
    I have learnt that to live is to suffer,
    To suffer is to live.


    After I had been through the poem with them, one boy was noticeably very upset. At the end of the lesson, he stayed behind and said to me, “I’m sorry that I got upset, it’s just that I would have had a brother but he died when my mum was having him. I really liked the poem though – it made me think about what’s really important.”

    “And do you know why you are so upset?” I asked him. “Because you care. As we live in a world where so few people seem to, that’s to your credit. You care because, to you, some things matter.”

    Now, I think that the quality of the poem enabled that lad to feel something that is really important. Suddenly, he wasn’t alone. He had also learned something about the experience of being alive without having it made all cuddly and twee. For me, that’s what Literature does – it makes you more aware of what it is to be alive and it doesn’t lie to you about either the good parts or the bad.

    That’s why we should study Literature.

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    ever since i started to learn litarature i started to think of books and poem in a different way, i never take the litarel meaning and think of another meaning behing the words. i enoy it actually because it makes me think for once!!!!!

  8. #8
    I guess I have different reasons for reading literature. Personally, while it does make me think, teaches me about the world, and all that, and not saying that I don't think about what I read, but I read literature for the sheer pleasure of it. I love Africa and so I love Conrad, I like life in the thirties so I read Greene and Waugh. I will admit that such a hedonistic outlook towards books corners me, I've never read Dickens and have no ambitions to, don't think I'd like him at all, just not interested in his time. I also don't care much for Elizabethan England and consequently could take or leave Shakespeare, mostly, there are a couple of exceptions.

    To me people should study literature because it is like living another life. Where else can you be a philosopher, an artist, a big game hunter, a sailor, a revolutionary, AND whatever else your heart desires. Of course your horizons are broadened and all of that but to me these are secondary reasons to explore literature. There's just no better way to learn and enjoy a subject you feel strongly about.
    In these days, old man, no one thinks in terms of human beings. Governments don't, so why should we? They talk of the people, the proletariat, and I talk of the mugs. It's the same thing. They have their five year plan and I have mine.-Harry Lime, The Third Man novella by Graham Greene

  9. #9
    I hate to say this in a forum like this, but after having studied literature for 6 years at the university i strikes me that:
    It is not anymore important than studying anything else. And the result is pretty much the same: You learn something anout the world and the people in it.
    The difference - I guess - is a question of whether you understand the way of learning about the world best when it is told to you in a storyform or as facts and figures or as something completely diferent.
    But then again ... it is important to study literature because you learn from it..
    it is important to study because you learn
    Why this is true I don't know. I guess you have to study mode to find out. I'm not sure that we become better people (neither as individuals nor as a race) just because we get wiser.



    (sorry for the typoes and bad language, I have had a few beers)

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