Everyone who has explored English Literature has heard of Shakespeare and Milton and Bernard Shaw and J.K.Rowling. What did all of these have in common? Yes, English was their first language.
I too grew up reading works of authors whose first language was English. Almost every single work of literature that has ever existed can be found translated into English today. English as we know it, is considered to be the Universal Language. Online sources state that there are about 1.8 billion English Speakers world wide. Until today, I never quite questioned, ‘Why is English considered to be the Universal Language?’ I wonder how many of you have done so, but I guess now’s the time if you are willing to!
English is definitely an amazing language. Because it was once my second language and today is the language I speak the most, I can admire its perks and flaws when compared to other languages- I speak Hindi and am trying to teach myself French and Japanese. My fluency in the English language is because of all the English literature that I have read.
In course of time and due to globalization in almost every sphere of my life, I came across literary works by authors whose first language was anything but English. Until now, many works have left a profound impression on me and my life and contribute to my character, including my perspective. Yet, the works of one man has stood out and has made me appreciate the need to explore literature from across the world.
Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace was a work that made me reflect upon my ways in life at least thrice, if I recall correctly. His subtle understanding of the human character is so vast and deep that as I read, I could connect with the characters and probably feel what they were undergoing. The simplicity of his style and the ability to produce something interesting and intellectual out of the most boring and mainstream topics of human psychology and human relations is something that really appealed to me. The journey of one character(I won’t reveal who) as he underwent successive changes in life and morality was the beacon of light for my own character. The depth with which Tolstoy has explored human relations is outstanding.
Of late, I have been reading Anna Karenina-his other most famous work. In my opinion, it pales in comparison to War and Peace and is rather dull owing to the vigor with which it chronicles a scandalous affair between two highly prominent characters. Yet, I was captivated by the timeless value of the entire story and its relevance to modern society.
The fact that I could draw a fine connection between modern human social relations and values to the likes described by Tolstoy back in the late 19th century made me want to appreciate his brilliance even more. These two works of his are timeless and carry a message for everyone capable of understanding his prose, including a blogger like me!
Yes, reading Tolstoy and appreciating him is too mainstream, but not everything that is mainstream is dull, is it?
In my opinion, Literature, as long as it is original in approach and carries a message that can inspire you to be a better person is good literature. I have decide to move away from English literature and explore some translated stuff by Swedish and other Russian authors.
Feel free to recommend me some good literature!