Literature. The lifeblood of a nation, one of the true representations of our life, our current economy, our society, our… reality. Its stands to represent the thoughts and feelings of a nation. From the upper classes, to the lower, with popular culture and the start of the serial press back in Victorian Era, literature has come to be something we can all appreciate and reflect upon.
So why is it so important? Well, like all the arts, it’s a way of preserving our time. Think back to the Victorians, without the emergence of the popular serialised publishing by the new middle class, we would know nothing of the strife and struggle for the lower classes, the working conditions, the sense of the time they lived in. We wouldn’t understand the emergence of the middle class, it wouldn’t be, documented by those high brow writers we cherish. Victorian Literature that’s studied now is just that sort, the sort that focuses on the sociological and economical England of the time.
Every literature tells you something, ever written piece of prose, a thought, a doodle. Think of notes from a class, they reveal the voice of that age, their issues, their humour, the individuals perspective, their worries, which relates to the bigger picture. You get a note from a thirteen year old saying they’d love to do someone, well you can tell that the younger generations are sexually active, grown up, independent. It tells you something about the people of our time.
So why are we so concerned with the canon, the literary on that is. Of the high brow critics the writers that changed our nation, of Shelley and Joyce, of Hemingway and Shakes, of Woolf and Keats – because they wrote something revolutionary, the changed the course of the literature, they made a difference to our heritage or culture in someway with its representation of it. But don’t all authors do that.
A romance novel, concerned with a young woman trying to find herself and her lovers, husband the one. It shows the emotional state, talks of romance and love, of all the clichés we’ve heard a thousand times. Yet it does something more than that, so much more. It tells you about gender, about representations of the Masculine and Feminine in our time, it represents ideologies, so engrained within our culture, we write within them without realising or thought. It tells you about what’s popular, what our nation is reading and why, about escapism, about a world which doesn’t reflect the romantic parallel we’ve made up. It explores the idea of anyone being able to write, about women writers, about their role within Literature during our time, our representation and restraints on society.
Erotica, a genre we might not normally consider. It represents our culture, open and accepting, or sexuality and the importance of sexual desire and freedom. It shows a nation willing and participating in the voicing of certain fetishes, of difference, of individualism, of self-expression. It represents issues of self-esteem, of freedom, of wanting to escape the norm, of fantasy. It shows relationships and the way we interact with one another, as sexes, within our gender constructs. All from one titillating tale of the plumber and the girl next door… But that’s just my point.
Everything we read is having an effect on us, its transcribing and voicing all these little details that we soak up and process without realising. It helps to broaden our understanding of our world, of ourselves, our society and our individualism. It challenges us with philosophy, sociology, psychology, politics, history and theoretical concepts. It imparts knowledge and understanding, opening our minds to new prospects, ideas and vocabulary.
Literature, every literature, is valuable. It should be saved and recorded, studied or enjoyed. In an age of technology we must not lose the written word, to online uploads and computer software. Books, the smell of the them, the feel of a hard back, of soft covers, of the pages, should always remain. What if we become so advanced, we lose books? We lose reading in all sense of the word, we simply get to a time where we download a book into our brains and we’ve read it instantly. The process of reading, of time out, of learning and the enjoyment of the journey would be lost. Its far-fetched I know, but its true. Reading is a learning process and one we must sustain and encourage.
Literature and every art form, represent us. Individually, because we fit into the grander schemes of society, of women and men and gender, of sexuality, of a nation, of a species, and therefore we are engaged with it. Lets not segregate ourselves from our world and heritage. lets read and enjoy, immerse ourselves in the brilliant minds and imaginations of others, enjoy each word, syllable and phrase for what it is – a journey through someone else’s eyes, a discovery of ourselves and an experience of our culture.