Thursday, September 29, 2011

War and Punishment

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

1 Corinthians 13:11

When I was a child I loved books in which the sun shone brightly upon the land and storms, should they come, would pass over quickly. When I was a child I loved books in which justice was dispensed swiftly and good triumphed over evil.

When I was a teenager I read books in which shadows stretched long and dark over the land. When I was a teenager I read books in which the difference between good and evil was hard to discern.

These are the books that serious adults read, I thought.

I wanted to be a serious adult.

I wanted to read about dystopias and political systems gone wrong. I wanted to read about the breakdown of society and the persecution of the Small Man.

I wanted to read books that highlighted the gloomy reality of the world around us, and I didn’t have to look far for such books. Gloomy books, books in which much goes wrong and little goes well, abound amongst the classics.

Now that I am older I wonder if these books paint an accurate picture of the world in which we live.

Some argue that bleak books help us look with fresh eyes upon the glory and splendour of our free world. But do these books really perform that function? Do dystopian novels really work on the human mind in a liberating way, in a way that makes us see that a human life is worth having?

I’m not sure.

So, now that I’m a man, I am questioning the themes of the books of my childhood and the novels of my teens. I am questioning these books and thinking about this quote from novelist E.B. White.

All I hoped to say in my books… is that I love the world.

I wonder why I haven’t read more books that are based on this sentiment. After all, is there anything else to say?

No comments:

Post a Comment