Seeing Literature As An Art

Ok, so I have tons of schoolwork to do right now, but I’m going to forget about it because I have a urgency to write this. It’s a big problem I see among today’s readers: most of us don’t appreciate the art of literature.

I mean, think back to the last time you read a book. How did you read it? For most of us, sometimes including me I admit, we pretty much just read. We let the plot or the story excite us, and when it’s over, it’s over. And then we move on to our next book (or in some cases forget about reading).

That used to be me always, all the way from the first book I read in kindergarten to the the last book I read in seventh grade. Read. Get excited. Finish. Move on.

That was my view of literature- something to just excite us, to comfort us, to take our attention away from the world. I never understood why it was considered an art.

Until one day in English class, we were going over the story “The Lottery.” I read the story before, so I thought I was ready for it. Apparently, I was dead wrong. The teacher began pointing out subtle things I did not notice- such as archetypes of color or the allusions involved. I was fascinated. I never noticed these things before. Suddenly, based off from what the teacher told us, I found by myself other archetypes, symbols, and other literary devices, and I even formed my own opinions and analysis based on those devices.

And I found it so beautiful on how all of these literary devices, as different as they seem, how all of them somehow weaved with each other, blended with each other, symphonized with each other, to form one big harmonious message- and in the case of “The Lottery,” nonviolence.

Even more beautiful is the subtleness of the message being revealed. “The Lottery” never directly stated violence was bad. It rather indirectly stated it through literary devices…. to me that was breath-taking, how the true beauty of the story lies within the body of the story, not on the skin of it.

I even found my own analysis beautiful. Isn’t it beautiful that based on seemingly irrelevant details one can reason out a firm logical message? Breath-taking.

So beautiful. That I cried. And from that time, I fell in love with literature. I went back to all my novels and stories I read and analyzed them. I even went to picture books I read and analyzed them. It was just so fascinating and beautiful.

And I asked: how did the author do it? How did the author manage to weave all these details together to make a message? How did the author manage to perfectly incorporate that syntax right at that moment? Mention very subtly an archetype there? And at the same time form a story?

And I realized that that was why an author is also considered an artist. Just like an author, an artist must know how to incorporate each paint stroke with one another. And in the end, all these paint strokes weave with each other to form a coherent picture. And each stroke conveys meaning- just like each sentence.. just like each word.. just like each literary device used.

The problem is, most of us don’t appreciate the beauty. It’s like just viewing a painting of Mona Lisa. We just look at Mona Lisa, say something about it, and move on. Similarly, we read a story and move on. BUT WE DON’T APPRECIATE THE BEAUTY. Why don’t we focus on the details in the painting of Mona Lisa- why don’t we focus on each individual stroke? Why don’t we focus on each individual sentence or paragraph? Why can’t we search for devices and try to find a meaning behind it?

Simply put, most of us miss out on the beauty of literature. In our fast-paced technological world, this beauty is more than ever in danger of becoming gone. Let us all take the time to focus on a novel and take the time to appreciate it fully. Or else, literature is just not as beautiful as it could be.

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3 thoughts on “Seeing Literature As An Art

  1. Wow Titus this is some great stuff, I really admire your social commentary and I can actually relate to what you’re trying to say. I have to add one thing however, music. Literature as in poetry is taken to a whole ‘nother level by adding the sounds in our heads. I think of the words and ideas present in our consciousness as a lonely leaf in a stream. Sometimes i think music was a lost universal language that the human race shared but inevitably lost and are currently trying to recover. Some may deny its usefulness and its power to bring many together, and some may chose to embrace it like I have. Music helps us move through that stream and flow in resonance with eachother. As one of my favorite emcees put it:

    “It’s funny how the music put times in perspective
    Add a soundtrack to your life and perfect it
    Whenever you are feeling blue keep walking and we can get far
    Wherever you are”

  2. Also the beauty of literature: one person’s take-away message differs from another. “Non-violence” was not the message I got from “The Lottery”, but it’s amazing how the same piece of literature can be interpreted in different ways and mean differently to so many people.

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