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Re: Lizzie's complaint

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  • jchristopher@tarleton.edu
    ... soon. ... But ... There are at least two answers: (1) Tolkien s answer was that the only people who complained about escapism were jailors. That suggests
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 13, 2002
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      Lizzie writes:

      >I've kind of lost faith in the value of literature. (Trolling for some
      >reaffirmations here, gang.) Sure, I've spent my life as a bookworm, English
      >major, and hopefully will renew that whole bookworm/writer thing again
      soon.
      >But it's hard to stay motivated... I've at least temporarily lost any
      >religious belief. What is the value of all this escapist stuff anyway?
      >
      >Life without literature, art and history is meaningless, at least to me.
      But
      >it's hard to defend the value of the soft sciences lately, my immediate
      >(family) circle just doesn't value it.

      There are at least two answers:

      (1) Tolkien's answer was that the only people who complained about escapism
      were jailors. That suggests the escapist literature is a means of
      relaxation, of getting away from the mundane, of psychological refreshment.
      By itself, this is no bad thing.

      (2) There's also the possibility that escapist reading may have various
      sorts of truths. It's the literary critic in me that wants to talk about
      symbolic truths, but others will find more obvious statements: the value of
      heroism, for example, as exemplified in the actions of the protagonist.
      Other attempts to find truths (meanings) involve discussing how,
      indirectly, the work reflects and reflects on the real world--or how the
      work uses (perhaps unknowingly) Jungian psychology in its characters--or
      something else. Much literary criticism is basically an attempt to claim
      one sort of truth or another for a work.

      And, of course, there is the possibility that meaning will be found as a
      by-product of enjoyment.

      --Joe
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