What does literature do?

According to some:

High school students and movie stars testify that “The Catcher in the Rye” changed their lives and changed the world.

Not me.  I read it in high school.  I re-read it a couple years ago.  I remember, while reading, thinking: I don’t remember any of this. No recollection at all.  Except for the “catcher in the rye” scene.  Which is a little like remembering that The Old Man and the Sea was about…

It’s a fine novel.  But really, someone’s life changed after reading it?  Certainly Franny and Zooey shaped my sense of what it meant to be in the world.  In a small but tangible way, as did many other books.  So I guess they did “change me.”  As did the The Flintstones.

via ‘Salinger,’ a Documentary by Shane Salerno – NYTimes.com.

About mkevane

Economist at Santa Clara University and Director of Friends of African Village Libraries.
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One Response to What does literature do?

  1. bill says:

    I feel the same way about those other high school staples: a separate peace, and yes, the great Gatsby… I was amazed and dismayed to find that a separate peace is still in the curriculum…

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