When we are talking of literature, it seems a hefty word, which has been defined differently by different authors. Literature can be said to contain an element of permanence and universality. Literature is the exercise of language and a great master of style. Literature is always considered as the reflection of the artist’s mood, not the representation of the objective fact. According to John Milton: “A good book is the precious life-blood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life.”
All books are not fit to be preserved, however. But certain books survive because of the deep-rooted personality of the authors. They conquer all ages and all countries. Here comes the conjugal effort of literature in shaping the personality. William Shakespeare said that literature is a mirror held up to Nature. Meaning that it’s a reflection of life. The vivid picture of life appeals to us because it has a ring of truth and sincerity.
The first aim in literature is always to establish personal relations with a man in his work. It is important to realise the man’s genius, in its wholeness and variety. The growth of his mind, the changes of his temper and thought, and how the influences on him from his experiences in the world can be easily traced.
Our thoughts are the representatives of all our past feelings. It is an admitted fact that the language of the heart’s experience cannot be served from personality. It is the personal character of the writer that brings his meaning before his readers, not the artifices of his talent.
When we are saying poetry takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity; it goes to prove the preponderance of the deep-rooted personality of the author. And yet what is really precious and inspiring, in all that we get from literature, is the sense of an immediate contact with genius itself. The style of a writer is a true impression of his inner self.
When we are thinking of shaping a man’s personality, then we can’t avoid literature as the backdrop or the man behind the character or the book. Here literature serves as the style behind the man. A writer can never be disassociated from his personality, because his works are not isolated productions forming aggregate unconnected thoughts. The throng and succession of ideas, thoughts, feelings, imaginations and speculations, which pass with him, the abstractions, the juxtapositions, the comparisons, the discriminations, the conceptions are so ingrained into him. His views of external things, his judgements upon life, manners and history, the exercises of his wit, of his humour, of his depth, of his sagacity, all these innumerable and incessant creations are the very production and intellect of the man’s shadow, which is nothing other than the personality.
Literature gives us insight and understanding into human nature and the human condition, helping us understand ourselves while at the same time it transports us to different worlds by stimulating our imagination and creativity.
- The reader is an English teacher based in Dubai.