Why Literature Is Vital

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

In the Fall issue of the Intercollegiate Review, writer Gracy Olmstead makes a more cogent case for the study of literature than we’ve ever heard at the Modern Language Association. “Works of literature wake us up, committing our tepid bodies to an unexpected plunge into frigid water. We emerge eyes stinging, blood coursing, fully alive. We don’t return to our studies—or our lives—the same,” she writes. “’Janie saw her life like a great tree in leaf with the things suffered, things enjoyed, things done and undone. Dawn and doom was in the branches.’ Thus Nora Zeale Hurston introduces her protagonist in Their Eyes Were Watching God, a stunning and glorious work of literature.”

“Textbooks can give you meaning and meat. But they can’t give you potency. They can’t give you these tantalizing layers of reality and mystery. That is what literature is for.”

 

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