Literature and Language: The Lamp of Knowledge

I read in an article by Simon Gikandi that literature was “a lamp of knowledge, a symbol of enlightenment and a path to immeasurable freedom through sometimes violent encounters” (PMLA, 2012: 20). Well, I would have not said it better. Literature usually implies reading under a reading lamp on a sofa or on one’s bed. That symbolic light allows the reader to enter and to explore different worlds. Literature is a twofold activity that suggests having and acquiring both knowledge and language. Literature makes you feel haunted by words, feelings, visions, revelations… Would you agree with this? What is the last novel that made you feel haunted by its plot?

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5 Responses to Literature and Language: The Lamp of Knowledge

  1. Clarisse McClellan says:

    The last thing I read that made me feel haunted was The Catcher in The Rye.
    I tried to read it long time ago but I found myself dreading every word of it and being totally fed up with the world “phony”. The protagonist seemed like a brat to me, just a middle-class boy feeling like a unique snowflake in a world full of fakes. I wanted to like the book, I really wanted, but it seemed like I was not ready for the book yet – every book is readable as long as you read it at the right time and I refuse to think otherwise!.
    Anyway, this autumn I found the book again in my local library and I thought “I hardly remember the plot of the book, maybe I should give it another try, see if we have changed”. Well, this time around the world phony no longer made me want to burn everything, which was a relief. This time around I focused in how Holden felt through his journey rather than just trying to read the story for the sake of it and what a surprise! Holden remains a difficult character but I would like to think that I understand him better now.
    More often than not we stablish a special connection with a book because we empathize with the characters and since I’ve re-read I cannot get this feeling of alienation out of my mind, the self-imposed alienation that Holden carries with himself thoughout the book. He pushes people out, intentionally and unintentionally. He tries to call Jane but end up not doing it, even if she is the only person he really wants to talk to (apart from his sister Phoebe). Instead, he goes around the city meeting with people he doesn’t really care about and loathing every minute he spends with them.
    It’s sad, but people can be so exhausting, trying to comunicate with them just to end up feeling like they don’t get you at all. At some point you just have to give up and not bother. That sensation is haunting and J.D. Salinger gets it perfectly.

  2. Clarisse McClellan says:

    *Sorry, I ate the ‘e’ in establish.

  3. Santiago Miguel Casimiro Galván says:

    What a lovely words¡ I am absolutely agree with you. When we have the opportunity of reading a book, we can explore and travel to differents parts of our inner. I think it is impossible of not getting atracted with some books in our life.
    Moreover, reading books can be an incredible experience to solve some troubles in our mind and feel haunted by a reading plot.
    I remember the last time I felt attracted by a book that I thought I never could read. I lived in Ireland for a year and I was an au pair. The family gave me the opportunity of reading all the books that I wanted that they had in their library. So, a day I tried to made my best scanning trough the different titles and I selected two titles. Two books that have been adapted in movies. The Exorcist and Not Without My Daughter.
    I have to confess that I was very obsessed with the film The Exorcist when I was young and I always feel upset when I heard or read something about that film. I discovered a different point of view that it is very different than the vission we get with the film. I discovered what was the real intention of the writter when he wrote the book and I got a different view. The most important thing was that I really enjoyed the book and I didn’t feel obsessed with the plot. However, it is true that sometimes I had some vissions about the film.
    The second book was more magical for me. I could travel to Iran, I could eat Iranian food and I also could learn some Iranian words as well. I tried to understand why an Iranian man could be so cruel and I could understand what it feels when you are in a different country with a different language as I was at the time I read the book. I had to spend more time with that book. There were plenty of words that I didn’t understand. The other thing was that they talked about different political movements in Iran and I studied the main characteristics of the different partys that rules in Iran.
    Those books opened my mind and they were as a therapy for my nightmares when I was a child. I could see with another point of view other religions and countries that are far way from our occidental world.
    In short, reading books is the best step to wisdom. I am absolutely agree. Why not get obsessed with new stories and discovered new things?

  4. Is the beautiful logo the the lamp and books part of public domain. I love it and am looking for a logo for my English/Foreign Language Department.

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