Saturday, August 04, 2007
In praise of literature
Of late there have been some particularly shrill trolls around the traps banging on about what a waste of time literature is and how it's all bullsh*t and what a bunch of wankers blah luvvies blah latte blah chardonnay blah blah blah.
Now, one does not usually allow oneself to engage with or be annoyed by trolls, except for the occasional brief passing swipe of a paw, but for some reason it's been more than usually wearing lately. So by way of correction, here -- old news in terms of the event itself, but always worth reading and thinking about again -- is a particularly lovely and pertinent bit from the absolute cracker of an opening speech that the lovely Scottish writer Andrew O'Hagan gave at the Sydney Writers Festival a few months back. (Convolutedly via Matilda.)
'Literature may be entertaining and it may be diverting but its role in a civilised world is neither for distraction nor diversion, but for engagement: every day is Sorry Day in the world of literature and every day is Humanity Day and Contemplation Day and Tolerance Day and Get Your Finger Out of Your Arse Day. Let the word go out. Literature is not Lifestyle – it is Life. It is the news that stays news.'