Robin Camille Davis
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Apology for literature, from literature

November 06, 2010
Tags: books, library
"My grandfather left me a great deal more—a passion for literature, and something additional, fundamental: the conviction that literature is important. He talked about it often. Literature is a source of pleasure, he said, it is one of the rare inexhaustible joys in life, but it's not only that. It must not be dissociated from reality. Everything is there. That is why I never use the word fiction. Every subtlety in life is material for a book. He insisted on the fact. Have you noticed, he'd say, that I'm talking about novels? Novels don't contain only exceptional situations, life or death choices, or major ordeals; there are also everyday difficulties, temptations, ordinary disappointments; and, in response, every human attitude, every type of behavior, from the finest to the most wretched. There are books where, as you read, you wonder: What would I have done? It's a question you have to ask yourself. Listen carefully: it is a way to learn to live. There are grown-ups who will say no, that literature is not life, that novels teach you nothing. They are wrong. Literature informs, instructs, it prepares you for life."

Francesca fell silent. She was moved.

—from A Novel Bookstore (Au Bon Roman), 2009, by Laurence Cossé.