Friday, September 21, 2007

Good Thoughts from Violet

My daughter Violet wrote this as an assignment while studying for her master's degree:

"Personal statement about literature:

When I think about what literature is to me, I find
generalization difficult and cliches rather offensive. The best way to explain
how I feel about literature is to use examples.

Literature is Confederate and Union soldiers reading Les
, experiencing the miseries of the French underclass while
waiting in fields and forests of Pennsylvania or South Carolina or
Georgia, for what might be their last battle.

Literature is the New Yorker's William Maxwell writing a letter to
Sylvia Townsend Warner about his experience with the city-wide blackout--the
whole of New York, moving eerily and quietly through the streets
in moonlight, candlelight, flashlight.

Literature is in the gas-lit, pea-soup fog of Victorian London, where
Holmes and Watson hunt the Napoleon of Crime and plumb the grotesqueries
of humanity.

Literature is Wodehouse amusing with his absurdities, Havel protesting with
his plays, Herbert praising with his poetry.

Literature is in the voice of the post-"colonial," long unheard, growing
stronger, opening the ears and eyes, minds and hearts, of people across the

Literature reaches through time, across space, between people. E.M. Forster
said, "Only connect." Through literature I make a connection with other people I
may never meet. I connect with people who died centuries before I was
born, with people who live thousands of miles away, and with people I might
ignore or dislike in person. Literature-in-translation lets me connect not only
with an author, but with a nearly-invisible translator--a two-for-one gift. I
also connect with myself; I find I meet myself and people like those around me
surprisingly often when I read.

Only connect. That is what literature means to me."

So. This is why we read. I knew there was a reason...

Today I am thanking the Lord for the gift of reading, of writing, of

p.s. I don't know why this printed the way it did (more like a poem than prose)--it didn't look that way when I composed it!

1 comment :

javamamma said...

What an excellent piece!

Thanks for visiting me! I enjoyed skimming through your blog. Your ironing board cover was pretty ingenius!

Have a great week!