Literally Means Acquaintance With Letters

Then I ferret for poetry on the specific subject that boosts me. Generally, I love Tennyson and Emily Dickinson; perhaps I go, as I do in literature, for the relevant and inspiring.

Poems that have had the greatest impact on me include Joaquin Millers Columbus: particularly the stanza:

What shall I say, brave Admiral, say,

If we sight naught but seas at dawn?”

“Why, you shall say at break of day, Sail on! sail on! sail on! And on!”(Derek, 2002, p.134)

Philosophers of literature argue regarding the impact literature may or may not have on the ethical psyche. Tolstoys What is Art?” For instance, maintains that literature has a strong impact and, therefore, one should choose ones readings carefully. Plato asseverated, likewise, recommending literature as part of the diet of the Philosopher king. Ruskin, too, maintained that literature should be employed for the betterment of society, whilst in Confucian thought, Hsun Tzu vociferously maintains that although life is chaotic and people are born with an intrinsic bend to evil, the right kind of literature (i.e. works that are moral and inspiring) can potentially change ones nature. A major contemporary advocate on the psychological and moral effects of literature is Martha Nussbaum who, over and again, in works such as Loves Knowledge argues that literature can have a profound effect on ones moral development, and that it can assist in problem solving on a general arena.

On the other hand, critics rant against this perceptive declaiming that such a viewpoint leads to government censoring of works, and that literature should exist for the pleasure of the person as Oscar Wilde influenced by Walter Pater proclaims. Indeed, most literature, to some point or other, could be seen as transgressing morals. In that manner, the Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition (2002) reversed the Child Pornography Prevention Act (CPPA) on the grounds that it was substantially overbroad since it punished material that should not be qualified as child obscenity or as pornography with the intention to harm. As Justice Kennedy pointed out, this could extend to prohibiting countless literary works such as Lolita, Shakespeares Romeo and Juliet, and movies such as Traffic and American Beauty where a sense of teenage sexuality are involved (Kessler, 2003).

Whereas Lolita was, one time, proscribed, seeing it as a great work of fiction would ameliorate that concern. Great Literature, in other words, should be evaluated as a work of Art — a masterpiece of aesthetics – not as a work of moral value.

Other works of literature include essays and drama (Cory, 1999). Some essays that I have read and enjoyed include Montaigne, Emerson, and Twain. I have and do enjoy the latter — all his works. He is witty, entertaining, sardonic sometimes. I have also enjoyed drama particularly Shakespeare. Shakespeare never ceases to amaze me with his fluency with the English language. He serves as dictionary — or, rather, compels me to use the dictionary!

In short, Literature is a vast topic. I have only skimmed the top of it. Other categories apparently include history, philosophy, law, the sciences — perhaps all fields of human writing (Cory, 1999).

As summation, Literature to me means an expansion of borders, a stimulation of new ideas, the introduction of philosophical thoughts so that I become a developed, enlarged, and sometimes different and better person; literature can have that effect due to the reading of a certain great work.


Cory, B. (1999). Literature: a crash course. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications

Derek, W. (2002). Selected poems. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Kessler, J.M. (2003). Ashcroft.

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