30 August 2013
Literature rewards rereading
When I was in college, I took a women's literature course. In one of our first classes, we had a discussion about literature vs. fiction. Specifically, we were trying to define "literature" as opposed to "fiction," to determine what makes a piece of writing worth reading.*
The professor gave a definition of literature that has stuck with me since then, and one I have used countless times in discussions with others. She said, "Literature rewards rereading."
I've always appreciated that explanation of literature, and I've found it to ring true in my own reading adventures. A good example of this is in The Great Gatsby.
Though I've read it several times, I've found that each time I read it, the story seems to contain some new depth or complexity I missed the time before, and each time, it makes me want to read it again. I learn something new about Gatsby or Daisy or Nick, and like them more, or like them less.
This time there was something that stuck out to me in Tom and Daisy's relationship that drastically changed my view of Daisy. I don't know why I didn't see it before. But that's what makes books like The Great Gatsby so rewarding. We bring our own baggage to our readings, and as our lives change, so do the lives of the characters.
Literature (as opposed to fiction) can withstand the changes in our lives and still offer us something valuable, something touching, something that makes us want to read again.
I've put Gatsby back on the shelf (well, in a box in preparation for the move) for now, but I imagine I'll pick it up again in a year or two. And I'm looking forward to what new things Mr. Fitzgerald has to teach me all over again.
*NOTE: The opinions in this post are my own. Everyone has different ideas of what is worth studying and reading based on their own tastes and interests. No judgment here.