Here, of course, that’s a rhetorical question. We know the answer. But Marjorie Garber is taking it to the next level in her new book, The Use And Abuse of Literature.
For Garber, of course, literature does matter. “Language does change our world,” she writes. “It does make possible what we think and how we think it.” Echoing an argument made by the eminent literary critic Harold Bloom, Garber claims for literature a sort of stem cell-like power to generate fresh and new imaginative experiences in those who read it.
The article is short, but it seems that the book will be something of a throwback to the old “two cultures” debate — should you teach literature or science? Sure, both, but at what ratio? Which is more important?
Readers of this blog may answer that easily, but that’s why our language has words like “should” – because what we want is not always the same as what is. How many times a day do I see some form of the question “Why teach Shakespeare? Is Shakespeare still relevant?” In my world everybody would know the answer to that question, and stop asking it.
I’ll be watching for reviews of this book, I’m curious to see how much discussion it generates.