“Literature is one of the most interesting and significant expressions of humanity.” Phineas Taylor Barnum.
The power of Literature. It could be argued that one of the most important functions of literature, is its capacity to open our mind and enrich our viewpoint. But, how does it do this? In the first place, it takes us into other minds as they are the author and the characters’ minds. In that manner, we are provided with the chance to experience the world from different perspectives, angles, times, locations… Hence, we can grasp those aspects which join us as well as those which set us apart from others.
Likewise, literature is found among one of the true forms of magic we have within our reach. It can be regarded as an escape, a kind of gateway to enjoy many lives. On opening a book many possibilities are presented in front of us. For instance, there are plenty of opportunities to fall in love as in Anna Karenina, to travel and live in a desert island with curious people in Robinson Crusoe, to laugh with the witty Buscon by Quevedo, or even to solve a crime in The Big Sleep following Raymond Chandler’s clues. Moreover, there is also room for fear as in The Shining where Stephen King incites us to take part in the tense atmosphere and freaky supernatural occurrences which make the readers doubt about their own grip on sanity.
Equally, it is worth mentioning one of the most outstanding virtues of literature as it is the chance to know the voice of remarkable people such as Olaudah Equiano. This man suffered the plight of slavery first-hand and wrote his own story despite all the difficulties he underwent. His atrocious story sought to appeal to the sentiments of his readers while denouncing the execrable practice of enslavement. In order to foster empathy Equiano employed first-person narration and detailed the events that had happened to him recalling both his past life in Africa before becoming enslaved and his torment as a slave. What else offers literature? It can also establish a literary dialogue through time as it happens with the idyllic Jane Eyre. It was not until a century later when Jean Rhys responded to Charlotte Brontë with her Wide Sargasso Sea. This novel is a postcolonial version which questioned the Victorian mainstream and told the world that Bertha Mason, the woman in the attic, was not a mad woman, but a woman to whom her abusive husband and her stifling circumstances drove crazy.
Finally, from Tierra Trivium we would like to encourage you to cultivate the love for literature as a source of knowledge and pleasure.
“Literature led me to freedom, not the other way round.” Ismail Kadare
Just below it appears my humble homage to literature in the form of a poem (both in English and Spanish).
“My Faithful Friend”
Daughter of the imagination
that was born without the pretences of other arts.
Intrepid, provocative, stoic, reviled,
sometimes even burned,
they still cry Ovid, Catullus and also Dante’s ashes,
on evoking the Florentine ‘Bonfire of the Vanities’.
You, brave that never kept silence,
you even invented to read between the lines
to outwit the bigots.
Sheltered by your leaves bold minds
were hidden under pseudonyms
better viewed by intransigent thinking.
How many lessons did you give us
struggling with your army of books
holding an unbeatable weapon:
To you daring literature
they could not silence you,
not chain yourself,
because you are immune to the shackles of tyrants.
Blessed are Gutenberg and his printing press!
which came to approach you to the world.
How much we owe you and those ‘ships’!
that Emily Dickinson already mentioned to travel far …
And so through Homer’s mouth
you made us suffer an ‘Odyssey’
until returning to Ulysses’ home
next to his beloved Penelope.
Centuries later we alienated ourselves
with Hamlet to avenge his father.
Then we travel in the pages of Swift
with Captain Gulliver in his misunderstood satire,
it was not for children, no!
it denounced the social vices of its time.
There was also room for love,
and holding Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy’s hands,
we learned that neither ‘pride’ nor ‘prejudice’
are good counsellors.
Nor do we forget the distance travelled
with the great Machado who from his mastery
taught us to make ‘way to walk’.
You, a plethora of excellence,
patron of my dreams,
you even allowed me to participate of you,
and embrace you in my writings.
Fire of my spirit,
warm melody of my eyes
that you came to stay.
in you, I discovered a good day
a lover that with its adventures, intrigues and romances
I would stay in love thereafter.
“Mi Amiga Fiel”
Hija de la imaginación,
que nació sin las ínfulas de otras artes.
Intrépida, provocadora, estoica, denostada,
a veces hasta quemada,
aún lloran las cenizas de Ovidio,
de Catulo y también de Dante,
al evocar la florentina ‘Hoguera de las vanidades’.
Tú, valiente que nunca callaste,
incluso inventaste eso de leer entre líneas
para burlar a los intolerantes.
Al abrigo de tus hojas
se ocultaron mentes osadas
bajo seudónimos mejor vistos
por el pensamiento intransigente.
Cuántas lecciones nos diste
luchando con tu ejército de libros
ese que empuña un arma imbatible:
A ti arrojada literatura
no pudieron acallarte,
porque eres inmune
a los grilletes de los tiranos.
¡Benditos sean Gutenberg y su imprenta!
que llegó para acercarte al mundo.
¡Cuánto os debemos a ti y a esas ‘naves’!
que ya mencionaba Emily Dickinson
para viajar lejos…
Y así por boca de Homero
nos hiciste sufrir una ‘odisea’
hasta regresar a Ulises a casa
junto a su amada Penélope.
Siglos más tarde
nos enajenamos con Hamlet
para vengar a su padre.
Luego viajamos en las páginas de Swift
con el capitán Gulliver en su sátira malentendida,
que no era para niños ¡no!,
que denunciaba los vicios sociales de su tiempo.
Hubo también espacio para el amor,
y de la mano de Elizabeth Bennet y el señor Darcy,
aprendimos que ni el ‘orgullo’ ni el ‘prejuicio’
son buenos consejeros.
Tampoco olvidamos el trecho recorrido
con el gran Machado
que desde su maestría nos enseñó
a hacer ‘camino al andar”.
Tú, plétora de excelencia,
mecenas de mis sueños,
que me permitiste incluso participar
de ti y abrazarte en mis escritos.
Fuego de mi espíritu,
cálida melodía de mis ojos
que viniste para quedarte.
en ti descubrí un buen día a una amante
que con sus aventuras, intrigas y romances
me mantendría enamorada
de allí en adelante.
“Literature is the art of discovering something extraordinary about ordinary people, and saying with ordinary words something extraordinary.” Boris Pasternak
(The images contained in this article are not a property of Tierra Trivium).