Random Thoughts

Should Literature be 'Taught '?

Sometimes I wonder should literature be taught? After all the literary domain is not only the prerogative of a chosen few, but of everyone, who love to read fiction or poetry or for that matter drama.

Again, drama, should it be taught as part of literature, or of the performing arts, where it should be acted out? There is a discrepancy between the textual drama, and the one that is performed. The latter would emphasize on theatrics, nuances of the play, the sudden shift in scenes, the internal monologues, or for that matter a soliloquy.

When it comes to the text, the interpretations are taught, the characterization process, and things are learned in a way to study for examinations. There is no visualization process, which is the methodology and grand design of a play. Once, it is enacted then the creative processes at work unfurl, similarly with a poem, it should be read out loud, in a way 'performed' so that the innate logic of poetry through word play has a mesmeric and haunting effect upon the reader or the listener.

The sheer pleasure of literature is accessible to all and sundry, not only the ones who opt for it as a subject, in fact the latter and 'studying' it for examinations mars much of its pleasure, as one is concentrating more on interpretative texts, to do well in examinations, rather than looking at canonical reading, and the body of work of a particular author.

For example say I loved reading a particular novel of Charles Dickens, that should prompt me to read his other novels, in that way I acquire an 'understanding' of the creative processes at work in his novels, the range and inter - textuality. But while studying to earn a degree, one is rushed up for time, and one concentrates more on secondary sources, that is the interpretative or critical text, what others have to say, rather than what I have to say.

The pleasures of reading literature are like the pleasures of philosophy, as a popular philosopher says. The pleasures of literature, are from gainful reading, mulling over the tides of time, empathizing, sympathizing, self identification, and going through the maze and conundrums of words. It is not the selling aspect of prose and poetry which matters, but what 'buys' the reader into thinking and simply relishing experiences of prose, poetry and drama.

Literature cannot be taught, nor can it be learned, it can only be enjoyed scrupulously, so that literary thoughts are embedded in the mind for further creative efflorescence. There are many who do well in examinations, but do not have the sensitiveness to imagine textual interplays and the menagerie of words, which make up a literary text in spaces of the time- universe continuum.


More by :  Ananya S Guha

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