A reader should always bring knowledge of history and contemporary events to bear on the reading of any story. Do you agree with this statement?

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While there are certainly many pieces of literature that are best informed and understood by knowing history (for example, appreciation of The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco benefits from a knowledge of 14th century monastery life); and while many literary works are created from or are reflective of contemporary events (for example, The Camp of the Saints, by Jean Raspail, reflective of the European immigration problem), it is not an essential element of all literature by any means. A literary work dealing with, for example, philosophical expression, such as Bartleby the Scrivener by Hermann Melville, can be enjoyed and understood with virtually no historical knowledge. The words “should always” and “any story” might be revised to something like “knowledge of history and contemporary events is very often helpful in getting full benefit from most literature.”  The basic sense of the inquiry is sound; I only cavil with the insistence on inclusiveness.

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