Reflections on Literature and Reading

READING is important.

It should be a critical part of one’s life. To answer why it is so for many of us may not always bring forth a clear answer, perhaps the reflection is a little personal. Reading brings a different meaning to us all. We are all, one way or another, unique. Reading is rewarded with different interpretations of its word’s messages.

From the time that I open my eyes in the morning to the moment when I finally draw the curtain on my day, I am preoccupied with reading and its different forms. Early morning crispness of the main news events and its accompanying opinions satisfy my curiosity and heighten my arousal for more insightful and thought-provoking prose later in the day.

When the night arrives, lying on my bed, reading a literary or classical novel, or a collection of theoretical essays, or literary criticism of what I have read, is one of the most soothing aspects of my day. Each reading moment on any given day is unique. To speak modestly of one’s own thoughts, choice of words, or commandeering of a narrative pattern, is an honourable characteristic of one’s own personality and need not be egotistical when drawing comparisons with literary giants throughout history and since the days of the Gutenberg Bible’s first publication.

jane austen

So, my narrative technique is nowhere near as condensed as that of Jane Austen. My life as an asthete is nowhere near as enriching and sophisticated as that of J M Coetzee. Nor need it be. I am miles afar from the Serapion Brotherhood of Soviet Russia, and still further from the audience of Alfred Nobel. And yet, there is a standard of literariness to which all should aspire, whether it be from the romance which in itself conjures up different meanings, or from pulp fiction which is today a popular craft well worth developing.

Aspirations such as these may yet be idealistic, but are not vain, nor will they be in vain. This is how I choose to develop my own mind which, in a way, no teacher can do. The teacher remains, however, our noble guide.

coetzee reflection

My preference for literary and classical prose is comfortably linked to and branches into other genres such as history, politics, philosophy, colonialism and even post-colonialism. I am, today still, enjoying the era of modernism from which many works have yet to be included formally into the literary canon as it was devised by Mr Leavis. The evolution from modernism to post-modernism remains as exciting as it was when I first discovered it.

Literature will remain for me a stimulating field of study which has, to date, rewarded me well.

Horizons of expectation are broadened further and knowledge of things near and far are acquired. It also informs a surreal belief which is set. The aesthetic appreciation of literary prose in which the author’s own thoughts are accentuated draws me into new debates and encourages a new line of thought and narrative plain in which to enable the progression of my own thoughts and beliefs.


Preoccupations with characterisation do not result in dismissals which spring from the notion of difference, but encourage a sense of understanding and empathy which I would like to argue remains severely lacking from Marxist thought.

I am forever in love with Jane Austen whose portrayal of situational events and painterly landscapes remains that bright light which F Scott Fitzgerald once spoke of. May I suggest that Ms Austen pioneered the creation of the daily soap opera and the modern television sitcom. Oh, all right, that is taking it a little too far.


There is nothing more liberating than independent thought, and nothing more invigorating than the freedom of expression. While some may argue that it is a divine right, it is nevertheless still a privilege. And yet, I am burdened sometimes by the weight of such thoughts and expression. Sometimes, the manner in which we force ourselves to look unto others, or into our own glass mirror, can induce tears. The harm being deviously done to innocent minds and the corruption of good character is tragic.

For now though, I am allowed to put together my own thoughts, as I have today done, and express myself freely as I will do presently. I may even propagate. But I warn myself that it must be for the greater good rather than for self-enrichment which would not in any event achieve much for the sake of infinity. So, for now, I objectivise the censorship and sovietisation of the independently borne mind in which these actions are designed to repress and spoil.

Thoughts and expressions contribute vastly to the human condition and the attainment of a higher sense of being little understood by humankind.


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