Every book is an artefact.

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.


8 thoughts on “Every book is an artefact.

  1. I love reading, being able to immerse myself in a story and and the characters. I’m not really cultured in my reading however, SciFi and Fantasy are my preference. And I admit to reading books on a device rather than paging through a book. Not so much out of preference, rather because it’s more practical to carry my books in a format that allows me to carry all my favourites. I currently read mostly on my iPhone and love being able to finish one and start the next no matter where I am.

    I still own a reasonable amount of books, love curling up on the couch and reading. When I was younger and studying, I used to pick a tree outside, one that had a good base I could lean against as I read.

    Your idea of beaming a book to our brains is partially there with video, I like a good movie, but a far as story telling goes I always prefer reading over sitting and mindlessly watching something (though sitting and mindlessly watching something does have it’s place). I guess because a book includes me in the story, simply because the thoughts that are inspired by the text are my own. Where as a movie is the translation of text by another and captured for others to view.


    • That has to be the best comment I’ve ever received. 🙂 I’m not much of a SciFi or Fantasy girl although I have to admit I have a guilty pleasure in BattleStar Gallactica, Epic Series, and six was pretty good viewing 😉

      I have to say I still have not bought a Kindle, or Reader device as of yet. I will have to succumb one day no doubt as you say, but for me, its technology taking over again. There is nothing nicer than a book case full of novels, classics and contemporary alike.

      I wrote a post about that the other day, having a spot, a place that is yours to go to, mine was a tree branch although not so much for reading, more general contemplation.

      I am I’ll admit, a complete film buff. I have a huge collection of DVD’s and always have a list of must sees to work through. There is something incredible about being immersed into a world, you get so totally lost when the credits roll its like being awoken from a dream. I am a fan of the complex, clever and demanding sort of films, those with dialogue that is first class, an art itself, with plotlines that confuse and intrigue.

      I could not agree more wholeheartedly with anything you put, thanks for taking the time to write it. 🙂 Do you have a favourite novel and film then?

      • It’s easy to write about things we love, and I love reading.
        My favorite films/videos/etc keep changing depending on what I’ve read or seen last. I’ve really enjoyed Game Of Thrones on TV, and am thinking about giving the books a go.
        There are three types of movie I like, comedy, story, and action/explosion/gore.
        I like a good action because it’s usually relatively mindless, and I watch it for that reason.
        A comedy is good for a laugh, 😀 but it can’t be totally mindless, I like it to have some content rather than just be goofy.
        Story is good, it can have other things in it, but it’s the story that enthralls rather than effects or action.

        As for books, I read the Dune series by Frank Herbert about 11 times. It’s got a good story and some interesting concepts. Most of the SciFi/SciFan books are enjoyable because they offer a certain detachment, you can get away from “the real” and simply enjoy. My idea of a good book is one that swallows you whole five seconds after opening the front cover.

      • Game of Thrones was incredible, really enjoyed it, I’m contemplating reading them too!
        Story is everything, doesnt matter what its about, it has to be engaging and grab you by the collar, even a girly romance with an interesting plotline can get you.. and I’m no fan of anything mush. You should check out Iain M Banks, he writes under two names, Iain Banks being my favourite author. Wrote the epic Wasp Factory, my favourite novel and many many since. Iain M Banks is his SciFi stuff and I think its top notch, be interested to see your opinion 🙂

  2. Hmm, no reply button in your last reply. I haven’t read Iain M Banks, unless I’ve read something old of his and forgotten. I look forward to checking it out. I’ll see if I can get my hands on those Game of Thrones books, would be good to see what you think of them too.
    I haven’t read a lot of “girly romances”, I have read a book or two of Mercedes Lackey when I was younger. It had romance between men who formed partnerships and their magic was tied to that somehow. It was a long time ago, but I remember it was a difficult read at first. Until I got over myself and let the story carry me through it. I would have been 13-15 yrs I guess, so reading about gay couples was icky. Glad I gave the book a go, wasn’t the greatest but it was still a good read.
    But that’s half the joy of reading, discovering new things, exposing yourself to new concepts and ideas. I’ve found I become used to seeing things from another point of view, and am willing to accept new ideas.

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