Does Great Literature Make Us Better People?

Gregory Currie, author of this well-commented oped in New York Times, appears in the oped to have little interest in actually following through…. the piece comes across as lazy philosophy, making a trivial point and dressing it up as something profound…. he is doing exactly what he says is lazy… speculating and not measuring anything. To me even his speculation is lazy… why “great literature” instead of “regular literature”?  A hard question, for example, is whether the moral lessons of Junie B. Jones stick more than those of Dostoevsky…

Our FAVL project, “Youth of Tuy Reading” in southwestern Burkina Faso hopes to answer one version of this question.  (“Does contemporary West Africa youth literature – in French – change youth who have gone just a few years beyond poor quality primary schooling, and who are the among the most disadvantaged people in the world”).  We’ll keep you posted, preliminary results early next year.  If you are interested in improving the quality of the answer, please make a large donation to Friends of African Village Libraries… for JTL project, Jeunes du Tiy Lisent.  Mr. Currie, that means you.  Put your book royalties where your pen is… or as Hemingway said, is it all typing not writing?  (Large here means, oh, $27,500.)

Everything depends in the end on whether we can find direct, causal evidence: we need to show that exposure to literature itself makes some sort of positive difference to the people we end up being.

via Does Great Literature Make Us Better People? – NYTimes.com.

About mkevane

Economist at Santa Clara University and Director of Friends of African Village Libraries.
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