To Read Or Not To Read; That Is the Question

I’ve often wondered about literary opinion, and how literary opinion differs between people. Everyone understands the world in a different way to somebody else, and so naturally, they will understand literature differently too. Literature, and one’s attitude and understanding towards it, depends on experiences. Experiences of education, literature, whether you enjoyed your lessons when you were in primary school, whether you have a natural love of reading. These are all key factors in understanding what literature is, and whether you enjoy it, or despise it.

I know people who have yet to finish an entire book, and I suspect there are people who go their whole lives barely reading books and magazines. This is of course, a life choice. Whether you want to read or not is entirely up to you; education demands a certain amount of reading. If you choose a literature, or essay based degree, you’ll find reading to be nonnegotiable. Arts courses tend to be much more vocational, and this choice depends very much on the style of learning one is accustomed to.

Philosophy of the Mind (1)

It’s difficult to know how you’ll feel about different kinds of literature, until you experience it. For example, I don’t like all kinds of literature. I really dislike mythical Greek and Roman texts, as well as finding James Joyce’s Ulysses utterly intolerable. Some regard it as an example of the greatest literary creation of all time. I think it is a grammatical abomination, and something that is so complicated that it begins to lose its point, because it’s completely inaccessible. Conversely however, I thoroughly enjoy T.S Eliot, who is well-known for regarding literature as an elite pursuit and past time.

Philosophy is something else that is considered highbrow, and rarely brought down to an accessible level. It is complicated because it involves thinking about the makings of the universe, and theorizing on that most illusive of characters, knowledge. However it’s less complex than some think; it’s a matter of having a good teacher and a simple reader, to introduce someone to the rudimentary elements of philosophy. There’s no need to over-complicate things, and dive straight into analysis on Plato’s dialogues.

I consider literature to be one of my greatest loves, and I consider almost everything to be literature. I think that the well-written blog can be considered literature of all sorts; some blogs can be understood as literotica, some can be understood as beautiful prose. New writing is the writing that will one day be considered classic, and will belong to the modern cannon, and so I think it’s important to look at new literature, read magazines, of all kinds; fashion, photography, literary; they’re all part of a modern culture that will, like all cultures before it, be revered by future generations.

It’s all about enjoyment, you see. Culture is formulated through the things that people enjoy; a city with a strong opera programme tends to become linked to the opera as a pursuit and therefore becomes a cultural construct. To this end, we create our own culture. I’d like to think we do, at least.





It’s Nice to Meet You, Mr. Hyde

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is possibly my favourite novella, and I only made this discovery on Monday night, having realised, in something of a panic, that I was due to discuss this novella in relation to Freudian psychoanalysis, the following morning, ten am sharp. So, I did what all good students do: camped out on my bed, with a big pile of pillows, and read all eighty-two pages, feverishly, and with fear of my seminar leader deep in my heart. It took about two hours.

Anyway, I finished the novella, and came to the conclusion that I had rather enjoyed it. In fact, I’d enjoyed it so much that I thought I might well read it again, just for fun. The best element though, in my opinion, is the protagonist’s ability to be himself, and yet somebody entirely different, at the same time. In some ways, isn’t this what we’d all like to be able to do? I certainly would.

Book Cover (1)

Dr. Jekyll however becomes a fantastical opposite of what he is in reality; a blood thirsty monster, subject to his own innate impulses.  It can be said however that the Jekyll that is sane, and balanced, is not the true self that exists within him; instead, it is possible that he is in fact the monstrous character of Hyde, by way of the fact that he finds these impulses within what is essentially his soul, however I use this phrase with some apathy.

This can be related to the Freudian idea of the id, ego and superego, however personally, I’m not a devout follower of this school of criticism. In fairness to the wonderful Dr. Freud though, he might have managed to save us if he’d managed to keep his appointment with Hitler. His neuroses would have allowed the man a significant case study and one heck of a field day.

In a way, the idea of having multiple personalities stored inside you is completely terrifying. There is perhaps nothing so disconcerting as this idea, because according to this hypothesis, nobody is really aware of their limits, or how far they could possibly go. This is true of life however; people are never quite aware of what they can do until they choose to push the boat out and find out. People sometimes overstep themselves, and forget their limits; they do things that damage them. However the idea that we have innumerable possibilities before us is both liberating and horrifying because we can’t ever know what we could do.

Hyde however, is far less enigmatic; he is evidently capable of unrestrained evil, murder and deception. An interesting idea however is what would happen if we could all release ourselves into this world of unmitigated impulse. This idea is reflecting, in two of my favourite texts, of course; (can you guess what they are?) The Wasteland and The Picture of Dorian Grey The latter is probably the best example however; excess, temptation, and the abandonment of restraint all seem to make rather delectable reading, at least to those who adore decadence and anarchy, like myself.

If you’re in the mood for some light horror, and an evening’s entertainment, then this is the novella for you. Especially if psychodrama tickles your taste buds.