Forums > Social Discussion > Do you trust/distrust literature? help?...

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Adya MiriyanaGOLD Member
6,554 posts
Location: Adelaide, Australia

Hey guys. decided this would be the best place for this. I'm doing an English essay that I need some help on, so I'd like to hear what you think...

the question is "The purpose of literature is the enhancement of life and the propagation of humane values, yet we distrust literature which has a palpable design on us"

[palpable means obvious/direct]

not really a question, i know. it's a agree/disagree thing i think. though, i'll be arguing both sides, so all comments welcome. i have to write a 3,500 wd essay on it, and i'm rather lost. Any ideas? i have to use 2 texts to reference,although, that's just to reinforce some ideas, which i reckon should be pretty easy once the ideas are there. so far we've done:

daisy miller - about an american flirt who goes around flirting while being innocent according to her, not realising how much according to other peoples standards

aspern papers - about a guy obsessed with a writer who has died. he goes to share a house with the long-ago girlfriend of the dead writer [who is now 80 odd by this stage], and her neice. basically tries to learn more about the writer and get some papers that the old woman has, but the neice ends up burning them, and thats it.

the jolly corner - i didnt read all of this one, but its about a man that owned a house in america and went to live somewhere else, europe i think, living off rent from his american properties. he returns to the old house on the corner to see that everything has changed, though the house is still how it was... then confronts his alter ego, and
goes a bit mad. was quite confusing, but i rushed it a little in the end.

sons and lovers - about a family and their sons, mostly about one of the sons and his relationships, mainly with two girls, one he connects with emotionally, the other physically. his mother grows old, and he
and his sister kill he by overdosing her with her medicine. the father is not disturbed by any of this whatsoever because he is uncaring,and seemingly emotionless.

to the lighthouse - a family and assorted friends go on a holiday near a lighthouse, the youngest child really wanting to go out to the lighthouse. he never gets to, and argues with his father. i haven't read the whole book, but its based on character development, a painter who finds her vision in life, the boy and his father arguing and getting along in the end years later, and the mother trying to bring
everyone together.

i'm sure some of you guys have read these, excuse my brief explanations, i'm catching up on the bits i didn't read so closely.

*sigh* so thats the texts. I'm sure you have your own stuff to do, but if you have any ideas, they'd be warmly welcomed.

Visual Anti-Spin
_Clare_BRONZE Member
Still wiggling
5,967 posts
Location: Belfast, Northern Ireland (UK)

I think we tend to distrust anything (in literature or in life) that questions the preconceived ideals that society has lead us to believe are true.

Your texts (particularly Daisy Miller) give good examples of behaviour which is widely seen as socially unacceptable, but an understanding of the characters (who often have a universal appeal) reveal a considered freedom and goodness - from which the reader can take the promotion of human (e) values.

Having our values challenged makes us feel uncomfortable (hence the distrust), but to constantly challenge ourselves is the only way to 'enhancement' .

Getting to the other side smile

munkypunksGOLD Member
enthusiast, but not enthusiastic
367 posts
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

I tend to distrust literature that is making too blunt an ethical point, e.g., preaching at me. So I guess I fall smack in the stereotype you are supposed to be writing about. But anything that society as a whole believes in almost always seems to be a bad idea to me. (the Iraq war, the Bush administration in general, etc.) It seems that if the author is too convinced he/she is right, the situation isn't looked at from all sides, and therefore incomplete.

On a different note, sometimes literature purposefully sets us up to end up disbelieving or distrusting, through the use of an untrustworthy narrator. E.g., Lolita. I didn't fully read Sons and Lovers, but I sort of recall that may sort of play into it, though much less screwed up than Nabokov's characters.

That doesn't seem like much help. Sorry.

You can't fall off the floor, but sometimes you need a chair to reach the cookie jar.

RoziSILVER Member
100 characters max...
2,996 posts
Location: Sydney, NSW, Australia


On the trust side, I think a lot of people place trust in a writer by immersing themselves into a world of his/her creating. Hence the sense of betrayal when an author turns out to be something other than you had expected (like really boring, for example), or when a book does not match expectations.

We trust authors to treat us with respect, and so the preachier texts, in lacking respect for their audience, result in our mistrust.

It was a day for screaming at inanimate objects.

What this calls for is a special mix of psychology and extreme violence...

503 posts
Location: bristol

nah, i think the purpose of much literature is simple entertainment . . .

ture na sig

Adya MiriyanaGOLD Member
6,554 posts
Location: Adelaide, Australia

thanks guys. some of these ideas helped!

well essay is in *phew*... now to holidays! woot~!

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