Importance of Literature in Life
Literature has a deep and direct link with life and its realities. It is a vague concept that literature is something which has only an abstract significance and that literature is totally divorced from life. And equally vague is the concept that literature is a dweller of the land of Fancy and Imagination.
As a matter of fact, life and literature are not two separate or different things. A creative literature grows out of the realities of life and that life without a creative and constructive literature, has no inner significance. Literature, if it is to be a creative and lasting thing, must not live in an ‘Ivory Tower’. It should participate in the people’s movements, and play its creative, constructive and reformative role.
Literature is one of the trails blazed by the human spirit ‘voyaging through strange seas of thought, alone’. After the needs of daily life are satisfied, man follows the lead of curiosity and explores the mysteries of life.
The passion for knowledge, the desire to understand life and to make himself at home in the universe has perennial spring in human nature. By the side of the acquisitive instinct there exists the inquisitive instinct. Science is the record of some of the discoveries made in the course of the exploration; philosophy and literature record the expression of the inner self of man and his message to the universe.
All discoveries are expressions of man’s intellectual pleasure and are covered by that inconclusive definition – ‘Literature is the comprehensive essence of the intellectual life of a nation’ – says Schiller.
Literature deals with life but it is not an imitation of life, a mere copy of the real world.
Man’s entire life, including its joys and sorrows, miseries and comforts, tragedies and comedies, is reflected though literature. A nation that has no literature of its own, as a matter of fact, has no foundation – it may have a long history. Our ancient civilization, the Vedic Civilization with its culture, has been mirrored in our ancient literature. What are the works of Kalidas? Do they not convey to us even today, the greatness and glamour of our ancient civilization? The patriotic urge of the freedom loving people of Scotland was the result of the ‘patriotic literature of that country.
There is a vague concept that literature leads a man to the dreamy realm of imagination and fancy. As ideal literature, i.e. literature, in the real sense of the term, incorporates the highest value of man’s creative life. There is not a single zone of man’s activities which is not affected creatively by the impact of a healthy literature.
Poetry, for instance, conveys to man the meaning of his life. A poet like Wordsworth can teach, through his poetic art the sublimity of man’s life. He has proved, especially through his Nature-poems that man’s life has become so haggard, dull and mechanical because of the fact that he has divorced himself from Nature. But as soon as man goes to Nature and identifies himself with her spiritual beauties all, his worries and pains come to an end. It is only a poet like Shelly, who can predict, to man, his ultimate bright future and assure him of a radiant future:
‘If winter comes can spring be far behind?’
In the modern age when man has become almost a prisoner of Science and has been reduced to a machine, it is the love of literature that makes his life once more beautiful and healthy. He can once again claim a higher and richer life which is inspired by a sublime ideal. A life, which is divorced from literature, is a mechanical life and not an ideal one.