Monday, April 22, 2013

Understanding Through Literature

For the past week, our entire nation has been glued to our television sets.  From the horrific bombing in Boston last Monday to the tense lockdown and manhunt on Friday, it seems like our lives were consumed by what was happening on the 24 hour news channel.  But though our attention to the constant stream of information kept us in the loop, it didn't help us wrap our minds around what was happening.  It brought us knowledge without understanding.  For that, we find ourselves turning to literature.

During the lockdown, Liesl Schillinger over at the Daily Beast pored over Leo Tolstoy's final novel, Hadji Murat, to discover the lengthy and volatile history of the Caucasus.  Katie Roiphe at Slate Magazine discusses how the novel The Reluctant Fundamentalist can help give us a clearer picture of the bomber brother.  And during a lecture on the writings of Flannery O'Connor that I attended, the speaker mused on how the compassion shown by the grandmother to The Misfit in her story "A Good Man is Hard to Find" might encourage us to also receive grace through compassion towards those who mean us harm.  There is perhaps no other medium or art form that can bring us solace and understanding quite like reading can.  In a world where cold hard facts are bombarding us constantly from every direction, seeing it all played out in literature can help us process it and see it from a different perspective.  We look for our own desires, hurts, and fears in the lives of fictional characters.  We feel that by understanding their stories, we might actually come to grips with our own.

Have you ever found a way to understand your own problems through a book?  Have you come across a novel that can help us heal and understand this recent tragedy?  How do you find comfort in a good novel?  Share your thoughts here.

No comments: