Friday, 30 March 2012

It is necessary to do right, 
it is not necessary to be happy.

I was reading 'Eight Cousins' by Louisa Alcott where I encountered these lines. How true yet it is so difficult to put these thoughts into action. While reading, I was also wondering about 'Literature'! Yes, literature. Exactly, what is literature? Why is there an unwritten rule which forbids delightful books to be put in the category of literature and labels them with unflattering tags of  'Entertainers', 'Young Adult', 'Fantasy', 'Thrillers' .... well, you get my drift. Why is writing short sentences in easy to read English is not deemed worthy of 'serious' work? Great writers like Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Louisa Alcott and many others are clubbed into unimaginative categories of Crime Fiction or Children Writers, while 'The Great Gatsby' is routinely paraded onto the all time great classics you-must-read list. 

While I have nothing against Mr. Fitzgerald and I have read and liked (may be not that much as I enjoyed so called crime thrillers and children stories)'The Great Gatsby', the point I am trying to make is that entertainment can also be classic! Suppose I were to write a book in which a single sentence wraps up a whole paragraph and I fill that paragraph with enchanting descriptions of my surroundings (you know the pitter-patter of rain, tumultuous clouds, breathtaking countryside, sun, roses, moon, stars and the whole she-bang) or my inner turmoil (nerve-wracking passions, fits of rage, scandalous love, unceasing nightmares), will that book qualify as a serious book even if the whole story or 'plot' (shameless me!) can be written in three lines.

I would like to clarify that I don't intend to demean the classics or great literary works. My only bone of contention is that why on earth do we classify a book as serious if 98% of the population fails to understand it or can not read it without the help of a dictionary. Are the great books written only for 2% of the Intelligensia? We have made reading snobbish! People who think themselves as super duper high brows looks down upon anyone who meekly ventures to say that he enjoys Dan Brown and Sidney Sheldon instead of Salman Rushdie and Dumas. It is fashionable to discredit Harry Potter, Twilight, Narnia, Sherlock Holmes, Poirot, and Robert Langdon but they are also delightful. As beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, the same way its up to us to imbibe what we want from any book.

You can learn mastery of the plot from Christie, careful observation from Holmes, Loyalty and friendship from potter, and lastly real feelings from Bella. Its not crime to love two people at once, to feel torn between them, know your shortcomings, have self-doubts. Its all natural and part of our everyday lives. Sadly yet, we are quick to condemn them to 'Entertainment' backwaters while reserving front row seats for unending prose.

Writing short, crisp sentences is also an art which is not easily learnt. To engage and delight thousands of minds is no mean feat. I just feel that we should read what we love and not just what we have to. Literature is yours to cherish, yours to nurture, yours to create, yours to delight and yours to love, not to scorn or - look down upon.

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