We recognize that some novels are entertaining, but leave no lasting impression. Our answer is that we don’t just read great books — they read us as well.
The human condition is complex and contradictory, layered like an ice-cream parfait, with flavors blending among the layers. We may read it several times, as we do with our favorites, and each time it is like finding an old friend and gaining new insights from that friend.
It goes to the heart of how we treat all those around us, and reminds us that we must respect those seemingly least among us as human beings, worthy of dignity. Please add a comment and tell us books you recommend, and what makes them special to you.
Tom Ehrlich’s list: We often hear friends ask why they should read fiction.
We put it down with new understandings of the world around us and, most important, of ourselves.
Let’s look at the novel , written in 1818 by Mary Shelley, and on the great-books list of many colleges.The movie, though a blockbuster, failed to recreate the scenes that the novel had presented so well.On the other hand, directors often take recourse to extremely violent scenes in their works and these serve to make the movie repulsive.Our reading of great literature can also be enriched by understanding the author’s personal interests and anxieties. Birth and death are closely linked in her prose and in her experiences.Her mother had died giving birth to her, and by the time she began writing this great novel, she herself had already had two babies out of wedlock. The novel echoes her deep anxieties about giving birth and her fears that birth will bring death. Through science, Frankenstein “gives birth” to the monster, suggesting that even in this realm, creativity belongs to men.He abandons the creature, which is scorned and attacked wherever it goes.It becomes enraged and ultimately kills Frankenstein’s brother, his bride, and his best friend. But Shelley writes more than just scary entertainment.To test his theory, he collects body parts from morgues and dissenting rooms, assembles an eight-foot creature, and charges it with life.When the dull yellow eyes open, however, Frankenstein is appalled by what he has done.Though alien today, the notion that women existed to serve and please men was certainly prevalent in the nineteenth century.Mary Shelley was the only major woman author among the Romantic writers that included William Wordsworth and her own husband, Percy Shelley. Its meanings, originating in the author and the society where and when the book was written, change with our own thoughts and times.