Literature and Daily Life: Looking for Love in All the Wrong (and Right) Places
It is sometimes claimed these days that serious literature is seldom relevant to the lives of ordinary citizens of our communities. It is the contention of this author, however, that good literature is always a joy to read and consider. The ideas conveyed by that literature can guide us, challenge us and reassure us in our daily lives. The challenge for the author is to see if he can demonstrate the truth of these claims to a general, non-academic audience. The first section of the article argues that Shakespeare in his Romeo and Juliet was doing something brand new in renaissance England – presenting love as a deep and sharply felt human emotion, something very different from the “game” of love presented in so many earlier works of that period and its predecessor as well, including plays, treatises of love and the many sonnet sequences of those times. The second, and somewhat longer, section analyzes James Purdy’s novel, The Nephew, seeing in it an underlying theme of love’s emotional power and redemptive force in the lives of ordinary individuals of all ages.
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