"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 ancient and modern times. Literature 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.
As stated in the quotation by C.S. Lewis, literature not only describes reality but also adds to it. Yes, literature is not merely a depiction of reality; it is rather a value-addition. 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 a tonic for imagination and creativity. Exposing an individual to good literary works, is equivalent to providing him/her with the finest of educational opportunities. On the other hand, the lack of exposure to classic literary works is equal to depriving an individual from the opportunity to grow.
, drama, essays, fiction, literary works based on philosophy, art, history, religion, and culture and also scientific and legal writings are grouped under literature. Creative nonfiction of the ancient 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.
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. Ancient poetic 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 are timeless. 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. The Adventures of Pinocchio, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and Winnie-the-Pooh were some of the greatest works in children's literature. The relatively recent Harry Potter series made record sales across the globe and brought fame to J.K. Rowling. However, a discussion about children's authors would be incomplete without the mention of all-time popular authors like Aesop, Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl, and Mark Twain.
It is through reading such great literary and poetic works, that one understands life. They help a person take a closer look at the different facets of life. In many ways, it can change one's perspective towards living. Lives of brilliant achievers and individuals who have made a valuable contribution to society, are sketched in their biographies. These works give the readers an insight into the lives of these eminent people, while also serving as a bible of ideals.
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 from around the world.
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 unable to provide one with everything that literature can offer.
Literature is definitely much more than its literary meaning, which defines it as 'an acquaintance to letters'. It in fact, lays the foundation of an enriched life. It adds 'life' to 'living'.