Literature influences life no less than life influences literature (Essay)
Aristotle says in Poetics that the objects of poetic imitation (mimesis) are men in action. Poetry is an imitation of human life in all its manifestations. Imitation in poetry is a process that involves the creative imagination and the intellectual faculty of the poet. It is obvious that life influences literature. So no life no literature.
Literature is the representation of life through the medium of language. Literature reveals the truth of life. Literature, according to Mathew Arnold, is, at the bottom, “a criticism of life”. Literature is the record of the writer’s impression of and reaction to the real-life he observes around him in human society.
The creator of literature must come into the close reality of life and what he sees or experiences in life is to be transmuted into a work of art by his secondary imagination, feeling, and lucid language. The work of literature is not one of the abstractions. It has a foundation in the real-life lived by the men and women of this real world.
Literature enshrines those aspects of life which are of enduring interest to men. Thus great and noble literature has universal and permanent appeal. Literature is an imaginative representation or interpretation of life. Literature springs from life and is closely connected with life. Literature divorced from life is no literature at all.
Life is the stuff of which literature is made and the true literary artist by his vision and faculty of imagination gifted by god, transforms the bare and crude facts of life into things of beauty. So noble literature not only gives aesthetic pleasure but also stimulates the mind, elevating, ennobling, and edifying it by providing food for thought.
The manner in which life has been represented in literature has been broad of two kinds – romantic and realistic. The world of romance writers is a world of imagination only having little connection with reality. The romantic writers according to their critics are spinning and weaving beautiful dreams which are attractive to the fancy of men but cannot be transformed into reality.
The advocates of realism say that it is the purpose of the writer to go directly into life and to reproduce what he finds in life with fidelity. Escape from life cannot produce great work of art. Romantic poetry restores reality at a higher point. It is not an escape from reality but is an escape into reality.
Hopes and dreams are more real to men because actual living in this world is full of despair and sorrow, The true artist observes and represents them in lovely colors and language and style to charm and inspire his readers. The advocates of realism in their zeal for the truth of fidelity to life often lose their sense of proportion and depict what is trivial and commonplace in real life.
Literature influences life to great extent. Noble and great literature ennobles and edifies life. It stimulates thought, elevates the mind, and gives aesthetic pleasure. Literature refreshes and invigorates the spirit. Bad and decadent literature influences the human mind easily and quickly though it has no permanent place in the world of art. Bad literature suppresses the good qualities and virtues of men and arouses vices and beastliness. Bad literature cannot withstand the test of time and ultimately vanishes.
Man has his moral, intellectual, and spiritual desires which crave satisfaction. He has his love of beauty, ideas of good and bad, thirst for knowledge. The study of good literature stimulates man’s healthy interest in the man and his society.
By reading the great epic like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata men get pleasure and learn many good qualities of human life and values of life. Men can know the people and society of bygone days of India. The life of the kings and the common people, their society, their courage, their dignity, their sacrifice affection, and love for fellow men still influence the lives of today’s India. Poetry can bring peace to the tormented soul of men. In the modern age, we have poets like Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam whose poetry is a source of inspiration to live and let live.
Classic literature and epic poetry like Illiad and Odyssey, Aeneid, Divine Comedy, Paradise Lost, etc. influence and inspire life till modern time and will influence life in future time also. Characters of Shakespeare’s plays always influence the lives of men. The study of literature brings men in touch with and makes men live habitually with the wise thoughts and right feelings of literary artists of all ages. In the word of W. Whitman literature “frees, arouses and dilutes the human mind,” So it can be concluded that life influences literary artists to create literature and literature influences the life of men to shape it properly.
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