I’m not going to lie to you: I like to read. A lot.
In fact, along with cuddles from my daughter, climbing mountains with my wife (literally, this is not some metaphorical nonsense you would find in The Notebook) and chasing an egg round a pitch with a bunch of sweaty men who want to tear me limb-from-limb, it’s possibly the greatest feeling in the world to me. But why do I enjoy reading so much?
As my Year 12 Literature students will know well, Oscar Wilde prefaces his Gothic novella The Picture of Dorian Gray with this startling aphorism based on the principles of the aesthetic movement: “All art is quite useless.” There are many different interpretations of this statement, forcing the reader to think about the nature of art and the benefit it brings to both artist and recipient.
And thus I raise a simple question: ‘What is the purpose of art, especially reading Literature?’
- A means to an end; a qualification to enter university; a useful subject to place on our CV?
- Simply a form of entertainment; a method of escapism; a way to block out the mundane monotony of everyday life?
- Or, A way of changing our own morality, of sculpting our personalities for the better; a leap of faith to reach a higher level of humanity?
I will happily add my own thoughts at a later date, but please describe your reasons for reading in the comments section. Should you wish to, please include favourite quotations, characters and authors, so that others can share your passion for all things literary pleasing.
For the moment, I will leave you with a quotation from one of my recent favourite novel:
“The love of literature, of language, of the mystery of the mind and heart showing themselves in the minute, strange, and unexpected combinations of letters and words, in the blackest and coldest print—the love which he had hidden as if it were illicit and dangerous, he began to display, tentatively at first, and then boldly, and then proudly.”
John Williams, Stoner
I look forward to hearing your responses.
Mr B.R. Morris