Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Why literature matters.

I was reading an article...I've lost it now, but it was about why literature matters. So, in a semi-boring and mildly interesting post, I'm going to explain not why literature, is important in the big scheme of things but why it matters to ME.

I should warn you this post is wordy and there aren't many pictures. But I like to think it's worth the read :)

This exciting picture by me.
The thing is, literature fires the imagination. It's no coincidence that nearly all writers were readers first - the more you read, the more you think and the more you think, the more you create. I had a lot of imaginary friends as a young child, and it was only when I started writing them down that the floodgates really opened.

Know what else? Literature teaches you to appreciate more than one viewpoint. You rarely see good fiction in which the villain doesn't have some kind of back-story, some kind of reason for acting the way they do. Remember reading Noughts and Crosses when you were little? Remember how Jude was evil...but we cared about him? That kind of grey area between good and evil helps us appreciate in real life that not everything is black and white. I know it's taught me to look at situations from different angles.

Actually, that semi-brings me on to another issue - literature educates. Read a Jane Austen novel? Begin to understand society in the early 1800s. I can tell you now, I knew nothing about Belgian rule in the Congo until I read Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. And you know what else? It educates us in such a way that it doesn't really feel like education at all: because we're learning everything from the flipside, the little people at the bottom, all the historical detail kind of filters in and suddenly we're knowledgeable. And that insight into other people's lives is so important: history isn't copy and pasted directly into an index we can use in the future, it fades unevenly and sometimes it gets lost. When a book captures one scenario, it shows us a bunch of thing about the time it was written that are absolutely invaluable.

Image courtesy of the BBC
It helps us communicate better, too. Here's a fun fact: in primary school, I used to get nicknamed "The Dictionary" because...well, because I knew how to spell words, basically. Except rhinoceros, never can get that one right. Anyway, when you're continually taking in proof-read, constructed prose you learn, instinctively, how to write well and construct a decent sentence. Which, coincidentally, leads to a well-written CV/personal statement...which is a ticket to a successful life. Note how that's not even an abstract "save literature becoz it's good" reason. That is an actual, bona-fide way that reading lots enriches your life.

That pretty much sums up why I believe reading, especially in children, is incredibly, crucially important.
(Warning: politics upcoming.)
Which is why the issues facing Britain's libraries at the moment are so tragic. Are the cuts necessary? I'm not an economist, and I can't tell. I wish they weren't though.

Truly. Libraries are my childhood. And I've spent a fair proportion of my teenagerdom there as well.

/end post.


misticalnia said...

Definitely! Literature is so important to the growing world, especially in these competitive times because literature - true literature, not the silly teenage romance vampire books you see nowadays - reveal certain aspects of human nature that were present then and are still present now. And people can learn from past mistakes; it's why we study history, which I consider as being another form of literature. There's so much knowledge contained within books, and libraries, that it's almost sin to just neglect them and let them fade away and become just another part of a past generation.

miss vintage vixen. said...

"It's no coincidence that nearly all writers were readers first - the more you read, the more you think and the more you think, the more you create."

Definitely going to quote you on that later-- and ugh agree with this post x100000000 times.

AuberginesAndLemons said...

Hi Emma(funnyhats)
How are you doing?We have all left stardoll now but you and I were pretty decent friends...Are you on facebook?What's your full name?(This sounds so stupid to ask)
As for your post,I completely AGREE. Literature is not just important for learning and achieving knowledge but also as reading makes you think and empathize.And you become aware of the world around you and different cultures as well.

Emma :) said...

misticalnia: I want to comment on your blog but it won't let me for some reason?

miss vintage vixen: (Can I call you Jessica? I feel cold otherwise) I LOVE BEING QUOTED :D

Zehra: OHAI! I love catching up with old stardoll friends! My surname's Crighton...in fact here's a link: http://www.facebook.com/emma.crighton :D

Aoife. said...

I feel like I should have a somewhat intelligent comment to add to this extremely intelligent post, but instead I'll just say that I 100% agree with every point you made. With so many new, shiny, high spec distractions around, I often forget the comfort found in a good book. Okbaithen.

Lux and Stan said...

So love the library, too. Great literature out there to absorb and give you a new perspective on life. Sweet blog.