Does Literature matter?
Whenever a discussion is on a language at some point, too early in the discussion, it turns into literature. In fact a discussion on any language will remain incomplete without bringing in literature into it. Does literature matter that much? From school days we’ve experienced our language teachers lecturing at length on the importance of literature. Then, like most of the school kids, I too had an opinion those teachers were simply overrating the status of literature. Its nothing more than a teacher’s brag on his/her subject, I suspended then.
Only later came the realization, without the aid of literature it’s literally impossible to learn (or relish!) any language. Perhaps if the title of this piece has been like ‘Why is Literature important?’ or may be ‘Importance of Literature’, it might have been self explanatory I suppose. Yet, I settled with this title, just because it resembles the mood of anyone who remains uninfected by the love for literature. An attempt to try to answer this question should better begin with the search for ‘Scope of literature’.
Primarily literature of any language – one having both spoken and written forms- can be broadly classified into oral literature and written literature. The forms of literature are many, as we know. Any type or form of literary fiction can be aptly called as ‘Fictionalized History’. A literary work of any language, principally aims to document the lives of people, their customs believes and their lifestyles. A literary work belonging to a particular era also serves as a gateway to interact with the demography of that period. In fact reading literature is a process of knowing; Readers dialogue with history.
“History is written by those who won” is a famous interpretation on history. This also is the perception of many about history. History always has a unidirectional approach. A work in history, it’s point of view remain bit rigid that it mostly doesn’t prefer multiple points of views within its framework. History by large doesn’t encourage multiplicity. A historical work’s validity or authenticity can only be challenged by another work. History always approaches an event or incident from singular perspective.
Despite this practical limitation, only a diversified approach on history can better our understanding on what the pages of history, in the unbiased, realistic sense. Within history there seems no alternative to include diversified view. It is at this point literature comes to the rescue. Literary works that are done with creative justice and that are weaved around a historical event serve best to approach history more rationally. Only literature can present an event, with multidimensional approach. An event, though single, involves many people. A single literary work has the potential to bring about different perspectives of many involved in it. As readers this facilitates, us to know multiple perspectives of the same event of history. Besides, literature documents the history of the losers as well.
History is a mirror reflecting time. Yet, the image it produces is flat. But on the other hand, literature helps history by adding more dimensions to the image produced by the ‘historical mirror’.
So literature does matter? A lot to be precise !