ad astra per alia porci

literary stasis
May 4, 2007, 10:34 am
Filed under: the arts

Been rereading my old Literature ‘S’ Paper books. Its been a long time since I have last touched fiction and rereading old exam books like The Great Gatsby and The Caretaker seems to affirm the fact that my literary taste and sensibilities have not changed much. Now that it has been three years since I have left JC, its surprising that Gatsby’s actions and the power of Miller’s writing in Death of a Salesman still send shivers down my spine everytime i read them. In a way I am in a literary stasis; much of what I read after my experiences with the books I read during my JC days seem to reek of anti-climax.

Perhaps its a testimony to the staying power of great literature and the timelessness of these works. Perhaps it just means that my tastes have not changed. Maybe it means that my values and preoccupations have not evolved over the years, but then again, its been only a few years.

Whatever the reasons might be, these books have significantly influenced and shaped my worldview. Jay Gatsby thought me the importance of idealism, of fidelity to one’s dream and the nobility of aspiring to something even though it might be a quixotic attempt. Willy Loman warned me of the thin line that seperates self-deception and reality. Marlow’s narration of Kurtz’s descent into darkness in Heart of Darkness led me to the realisation of man’s innate capacity for immorality.

And being a person who is just stepping into the world of adulthood, it means a lot to me to have these books to serve as guiding lights in my life. It puts my experiences and observations of human behaviour and human psychology into context and sheds light onto many things that I would have otherwise overlooked or been confused by.

Germaine Greer wrote in an article from The Guardian that libaries are places where you can lose your innocence without losing your virginity. The books that I have read elucidated various aspects of human nature that I have not known before and in a way I am a lot more worldy and matured in my thinking after reading these books. There is a balance to my thinking and I am increasingly able to think from multiple perspectives and not get bogged down by my own view alone. I am able to crawl into another person’s skin and walk around it in, to paraphrase Harper Lee’s words in To Kill a Mockingbird.

Age seems to only increase the value of these books. Rereading them reveals a different perspective, and many newly-discovered nooks and crannies that I have never seen before. Now that I am working, there is an added relevance in what the books have to say about my experiences.


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