Why study literature? Why read fiction? Why spend one’s life teaching it... What’s the point? Students do not take literature to learn only what constitutes a metaphor or a simile; they take literature because metaphors and similes say something. New insights are discovered and new meanings encountered with the accumulated knowledge of each literary device. Such substantive reading leads to substantive reflection.
We live in a culture spellbound by censorship. In the past, it was far easier to weigh in on the topic of censorship. But now, the considerations have grown more complex. So, we might want to consider one of the first proposals to censor works of art, one suggested close to 2,500 years ago. This attempt occurs in Plato’s Republic.
People have been telling stories since the dawn of time. But, as much as some of us like to just kick back and ride a good narrative, storytelling has never been just about entertainment. Why are books written, then, if not for readers’ gratification?
The first thing we notice about books is the plot. And who doesn’t enjoy reading about a couple guys on a cross-country rager, or a spooky old haunted mansion with an ancestral curse. But just like a birthday cake and its icing, there’s more to a novel than its surface narrative. It’s the layers beneath the compelling plot that give a novel substance.
A novel’s symbolic language carries a message beyond simply what happens in the plot. But like luggage, it has to be unpacked. No matter how enjoyable a book may be, if you’re just reading for plot and an entertaining story, you aren’t even getting half of what it has to offer. So, here are a few forms of symbolic language to be on the look-out for the next time you pick up a book.
Words can be fun, like Mary Poppins taught us. Remember supercalifragilisticexpialidocious? Well, that’s just a start... take a gander below.