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How would life be without literature?What would it be the cause of that??

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bosz | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 2, 2009 at 5:07 AM via web

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How would life be without literature?

What would it be the cause of that??

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marilynn07 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted July 2, 2009 at 5:39 AM (Answer #2)

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This sounds like a question you might be asked after reading Fahrenheit 451. I think of literature as being art crafted using words. Reading for information only would be dull. Good literature allows one to escape reality for a period of time, to get into the story and allow the characters to come to life. Poetry allows one to experience the emotions of the writier as they felt during the writing of the poem.

Life without literature would be drudgery. There would be routine and mechanized order and no beauty. I can imagine that life without literature would also be life without song as most song lyrics would fall into the category of literature.  I am thinking of the Puritan writers of early America. They wrote in a very realistic style in journals and day books. It was monotonous and mechanized record keeping.

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epollock | Valedictorian

Posted July 2, 2009 at 3:16 PM (Answer #3)

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If there were no literature, there would at least be some written record of governmental affairs. People don't necessarily need literature in their lives, as it does not impact them on a daily basis.

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted July 2, 2009 at 7:29 PM (Answer #4)

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One of the most important values of literature is that it helps us understand ourselves and other people. It would be more than difficult to think of a single human emotion or conflict that hasn't been explored in a great poem, play, novel, or short story. Literature connects us to each other and creates a sense of not being alone in our feelings and experiences. There is much value in that. Without literature, we would be denied the greatest writers asking, and answering in their view, some of the most profound questions of life--answers which we can then accept or reject, after considering them.

Literature can impact our daily lives in important ways, directly or indirectly. It can help shape our view of the world, of other people, and of ourselves. One novel that comes to mind right now is To Kill a Mockingbird. Published at a very significant time in our history, that novel (and the movie version that followed) surely affected the thinking of many during the turbulent times of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. I'm sure its message of human dignity and social justice reached more Americans in a more powerful way than all the newspaper stories and magazine articles of the time. Literature connects us to our own humanity.

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timbrady | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted July 2, 2009 at 9:14 PM (Answer #5)

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This probably varies.  People who never read, who get their entertain from other media, would probably tell you that its value is overrated; most English teachers and other readers would probably tell you that it's one of the most important human activities, creating characters and situations that shed light on our own condition while entertaining us at the same time.

The way I look at it, there is a common experience here that is more important than the technique/media:  the need to tell stories.  Before literature was written, there was oral tradition.  We seem to have a need to share our experiences, both personal and cultural, to entertain and to pass on/examine the values of our culture.

Although we might have a world without literature, I do not think we could have a world without stories.

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MaudlinStreet | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted July 2, 2009 at 9:33 PM (Answer #6)

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Honestly, I think we're already seeing the effects of such a world. While a huge volume of literature is still published, the number of people reading that literature is decreasing. I'm not sure if e-books or items like Kindle help that at all; I haven't done any research to see if electronic book sales are on the rise. But I think we're already seeing a certain laziness...I'm not sure how to really explain it. It's like people aren't willing to go beyond turning on a TV or a computer for their knowledge.

What I would miss would be the great characters. When reading, one grows attached to those figures and personalities that evolve throughout the novel or short story. I often find myself relating issues or events to literature, be it in my own life or in the classroom as a teaching tool. That kind of relation would be missing without literature.

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kc4u | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted July 3, 2009 at 10:45 PM (Answer #7)

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For me, literature is the staple of the mind. Without it living would be all biological; only the sub-humans don't need literature. We see ourselves variously transfigured in the works of literature. It's a world of multiple mirroring, mirrors reflecting our lived existence from widely diverse angles. Literature makes us sad; literature makes us happy;it consoles us, motivates us, makes us feel and realise things beyond the handy. Without the works of fiction, of drama, of poetry, life of man would be just worth leaving.

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krishna-agrawala | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted July 4, 2009 at 2:44 AM (Answer #8)

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Literature arouses in us emotions about things we do not experience in reality, but are only able to perceive through the aid of literature. Thus without literature our experiences and emotions will be limited to only those aroused by contact with the physical world.

Literature expands the size of the our universe that is the universe which is perceived by us and impacts us. Without literature, this universe will shrink back to the normal size of the physical world we are actually exposed to. No doubt this will be a great loss.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 4, 2009 at 11:26 AM (Answer #9)

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I am reminded of the statement "There is more truth in fiction there is in non-fiction."  Governmental recordings mean little and cannot substitute for literature, for as Napoleon declared, "What is history but a fable retold?"  How often has history been interpreted by differing governments, differing political ideologies, etc.? 

But, literature is the true recording of the human experience:  the record of the hearts, minds, and souls of men; the record of cultures.  Without it there would be no true cultural history.  And, how bereft, indeed, people would be without these recordings, without the setting down of what so many feel, so many share with humanity.  This sharing is what so often gives sense and meanings to people's lives.  That others have suffered as one has provides comfort and gives sense to what seems senseless, providing encouragement to a person.  Without literature, people are shallow, separate.  They are not part of the community of man.  Joseph Conrad wrote that "Meaning depends upon sharing."  Literature is this sharing on the level that one needs.

The problem today is that so often people nowadays do not realize that it this very solace and communication that literature provides that they are missing in their lives.  After all, one cannot define what one misses if he/she has never experienced the "cure" in the first place.

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted July 4, 2009 at 9:21 PM (Answer #10)

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My life wouldn't make sense without literature.

Reading Keats, Joyce, Shaw, Wilde, Stoker, Swift, Poe, Byron and Dickens helped me create that inner world to which I am always welcome to visit, and, when I leave, I always leave with a precious gift.

Some of us did not belong to happy households, nor grew up with role models. I, however, was blessed to discover the gifts that came off the minds of these brilliant human beings. Through their magic, I discovered their cultures, their languages, their countries. It was Joyce who showed me Ireland, and Dickens took me to Victorian England. Wilde consistently mocks society, and Byron drags you through the chaos of tragedy.

I tell you, it just wouldn't make any sense (in my case) to live without literature. Life just wouldn't be the same.

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wddd | eNoter

Posted July 4, 2009 at 10:26 PM (Answer #11)

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How would life be without literature?

What would it be the cause of that??

To answer this question, one needs to relive all the beautiful moments he/she experienced when reading a work of art. How the human experience expressed in such work helps to enhance his/her perception of the world around him/her. Reading literature helps one to contemplate how the accumulation of human experience reinforces a sense of sharing of all the felicity, misery, anger, betrayal, chivalry…etc. We are not alone in this world. When going through a happy or sad moment, remember someone has experienced the same feelings throughout the history of human being. This makes you cherish the experience you go through. Life without literature means living without treasured reminiscences.

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wddd | eNoter

Posted July 4, 2009 at 10:26 PM (Answer #12)

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To answer this question, one needs to relive all the beautiful moments he/she experienced when reading a work of art. How the human experience expressed in such work helps to enhance his/her perception of the world around him/her. Reading literature helps one to contemplate how the accumulation of human experience reinforces a sense of sharing of all the felicity, misery, anger, betrayal, chivalry…etc. We are not alone in this world. When going through a happy or sad moment, remember someone has experienced the same feelings throughout the history of human being. This makes you cherish the experience you go through. Life without literature means living without treasured reminiscences.

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pmiranda2857 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted July 11, 2009 at 1:12 PM (Answer #13)

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If there were no literature, society would have no link with the past, in fact, literature of any historical period contains evidence and valuable information about how people really lived in various times in history.

Literature is so vital to the development of individuals in society that without it, I believe that young people would be ill prepared for their future lives as working individuals.

School, reading, especially works of literature, history, help develop the mind.  It is not so important that a student remember every word that he or she has read, but develop and grow from the process.  Learning, reading, analyzing literature, writing, develop an individuals ability to think, rationalize, strategize and problem solve.

When my students tell me that college is a waste of time that they don't want to go to school anymore, I remind them that learning never stops, in school or out.  Learning is a continuous process that must be engaged in so that an individual, young or old, can remain relevant to his time period, to his life.

Life without literature would be a barren existence, if you like to think in dystopian terms, a good book to read is The Road by Cormac McCarthy.  It offers a unique and chilling perspective on life.

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joe30pl | College Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted July 11, 2009 at 6:20 PM (Answer #14)

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If there were no literature? I think humanity would survive, albeit things would be radically different. I imagine oral tradition would be the norm. History, stories, news, and the like, would all be passed down through the ages and by word of mouth. This would lead to many things. Oddly enough, this does remind me of Fahrenheit 451 by Bradbury. With no books, things would be very different indeed.  

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lhc | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted July 13, 2009 at 9:21 AM (Answer #15)

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Through literature, we can see that the people are more alike than different through the ages.  It gives us a way to experience other worlds, and other people's lives; whether we are doing that because we wish to escape our own world, or because we simply wish to explore another world makes no difference.  One of the most interesting aspects of literature is to look at world mythology, where the same human conflicts have shown up time after time in ancient cultures that couldn't have possibly had any contact with each other.  Joseph Campbell explores this intriguing idea in "The Hero with a Thousand Faces," and discusses these ideas further in the Bill Moyers documentary, "The Power of Myth."  Whether the genre in question is a novel, a short story, a screenplay, a poem or a myth, these are all vehicles in which an author has tried to reach a reader to share an idea or experience.  The same might even be said of song lyrics, many of which are extremely expressive and poetic.   

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