Literature’s Battleground

Literature is “obligated to join the oppressed in the trenches and become a partisan for truth, justice and the higher ideals […], such as tolerance, personal and collective freedoms, equity in the distribution of public wealth and equality of opportunity. In a word, those who love literature have a big role to play in building a just and open society where ideas are free to compete and where it is not criminal to hold divergent views. Literature, indeed all art, is therefore expected to engage in the difficult task of remaking society. It has a responsibility to guard society from what Bob Dylan, the Nobel prize winning crooner, called “the morals of despair”. It also has the onerous duty of standing up to those who seek to “choke the breath of conscience”. As the English Romantic poet, Percy Shelley famously observed, “the most unfailing herald, companion, and follower of the awakening of a great people to work a beneficial change in opinion or institution, is poetry”.


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