Thursday, August 11, 2005

What is art to a hermit?

posted by Todd T @ 9:27 AM

Recently I read of a near-hermit who spent as much of his time as he could manage shut away in his home reading classic literature. What I wonder is how someone who does not value nor have much experience with personal relationships could enjoy classic literature so deeply.

Does literature have a payoff for the reader if they do not care at all about human nature and its joys, horrors and conundrums? Is there a raw value to the writer's art and craft, the use of words, the structure of the thing that can be admired regardless of subject? I suppose there must be, but I think that I would not find it enough on its own. Sure, I can read an adventure story and enjoy it even if there's no apparent difference between the heroes and the monkey men, and I love great style for its own sake, occasionally, and I can find interest in Oulipian exercises, but we're talking classics here. How does one appreciate Jane Austen or F. Scott Fitzgerald, to name the merest sample, without caring about human interaction?


At 8:34 PM, Blogger Tim Walters said...

Maybe he just doesn't want to deal with the untidiness and/or modernity of real human relationships. Classic lit is both idealized and safely in the past.

Also, it never rejects you...

At 12:40 PM, Blogger Todd T said...

All true. Hermits may not be indifferent towards human interaction, just exhausted or hurt by it. Could be.

Actually though, I do think that some literature laughs at me. You think you can penetrate me? it chortles.


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