"Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become." ~ C.S. Lewis, a British scholar and novelist
This adage is perhaps the most appropriate description of the importance of literature in our lives. Literature reminds us of stories, epics, sacred scriptures, and classical works of the old and modern times. It is defined as the body of written works of a language, period or culture, produced by scholars and researchers, specialized in a given field. Why is literature important? Let us see.
Literature Adds Value
As stated in the quote by C.S. Lewis, literature not only describes reality but also adds to it. Literary works are portrayals of the thinking patterns and social norms prevalent in society. They are a depiction of the different facets of common man's life. Classical literary works serve as a food for thought and encourage imagination and creativity. Exposing oneself to good literary works, is equivalent to providing one with the finest of educational opportunities. On the other hand, the lack of exposure to good literature is equal to depriving oneself from the opportunity to grow.
Parts of Literature
Prose, poetry, drama, essays, fiction, literary works based on philosophy, art, history, religion, and culture as also scientific and legal writings are grouped under literature. Creative nonfiction of the olden times and literary journalism also fall under literature. Certain extremely technical writings such as those on logistics and mathematics are also considered as a part of literature.
Literature Impacts Living
Some of the great literary works like the Bible and Indian epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata, among others, provide society with the guiding principles of life. Works by poets like Homer, Plato, Sappho, Horace and Virgil, Shakespeare's sonnets and notable poetry by W.B. Yeats, John Keats, Wordsworth, Tennyson, and William Blake, among others, are timeless. They have always amused their readers and shall continue to. The Lord of the Rings, The Godfather, A Tale of Two Cities, and James Bond Series are some of the best-selling books of all time that have entertained several generations. While some literary and poetry works carry life's lessons, many others make us think. Some works are known for the sheer entertainment they provide, while others intrigue. Many works in literature establish a strong connect with their audience through the stories they narrate or the message the carry. Readers tend to associate themselves with the emotions portrayed in these works and become emotionally involved in them. Literature thus has a deep impact on the readers' minds and in turn, their lives.
The Adventures of Pinocchio, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and Winnie-the-Pooh, as also the relatively recent Harry Potter Series are some of the greatest works in children's literature. Due to a whole new world they create through words, or due to their characters that the readers can relate to, these books attract children. Amused by the stories they tell, kids associate themselves with these books' characters and idealize some of them. Moral stories are an aid for parents and teachers to let the kids learn important lessons in life. Aesop, Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl, and Mark Twain, among many others are some of the most widely popular children's authors. They have enriched the childhoods of so many. Their works have amused millions of children the world over.
Literature Helps Understand Life
It is through reading great literary and poetic works, that one understands life. They help a person take a closer look at the different facets of living. In many ways, literature, in its different forms, can change one's perspective towards living. Biographies of great people, real-life stories of courage, sacrifice and other good values never fail to inspire readers. Such works give the masses an insight into the lives of eminent people, and also serve as a bible of ideals.
It Provides Information
Literature serves as an enormous information base. Research works by famous inventors and literary works by notable scientists often narrate stories of their groundbreaking discoveries and inferences. Ongoing developments in the fields of science and technology are documented so that the world can know about them. Several ancient scriptures relating stories of human evolution and narratives of human life in those times, have been of tremendous help to mankind. Thus, literature has always served as an authentic source of information.
Scope of Literature
True, languages are the building blocks of literature. But the study of literature cannot be restricted to only studying languages. In fact, literature cannot be confined to an educational curriculum. A degree in language and literature is perhaps not able to provide one with everything that literature can offer. Its scope is so deep and wide that even a lifetime may not be enough to really 'study' literature.
Literature is Important
For the breadth of knowledge is gives, the moral values it carries, and the enjoyment it provides, literature is important. An exposure to good literary works is essential at every phase of life as it enriches us in more ways than one. Literature is definitely much more than its literary meaning, which defines it as 'an acquaintance to letters'. In fact, it lays the foundation of a fulfilling life. It adds 'life' to 'living'.