True, serious, honest literature can liberate us from our chains and bonds and redeem the dignity and wholeness of a life that gets squandered in so many shopping trips to the mall, and so many idle days and nights spent in meaningless work and watching all that drivel on the tube.
A definition is in order. I do not want to mean that “only" “true literature" is art. No. Art is an infinite field of creation and expression. But I believe not all art liberates. Some actually thicken the chains that tie us to our fears and illusions. Some art liberates us from the bonds that keep us as dwarfs while good literature gives us the wings that we never suspected we had.
Is true literature entertainment? Of course it is but it is not ONLY entertainment. That's why the Die Hard franchise is great entertainment but it's not liberating art.
Is true literature an escape hatch through which we can fly away from the daily grind? Yes it is, but it is not ONLY an escape. That's why YouTube is great fun and escape but it's not liberating art.
What I have in mind are the novels and story books written by famous award-winning authors like John Irving, Richard Ford, Alice Munro, Billy Collins, and countless other writers and poets.
How does (what I call) “true literature" do that? Let me try to count the ways.
First of all, good literature is honest literature. It is art with minimum trickery in terms of (not the format and style but) its core meaning and human significance.
(To continue in part 2)
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