Literature is the Lonely Planet of Idealists - Outlines Essay

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If one has a comprehensive look on the realm of literature, one comes to conclude that labelling literature as a lonely planet of idealists is a huge injustice to literature.

Why is Treating Literature as the Realm of Idealists Unfounded and Parochial Approach? 

  • Literature as quintessence of realism
  • The inseparable link between literature and life
  • An honest and objective representation of society
  • Focus on individual issues
  • Reflection on psychological issues
  • Nexus between an author and his environment
  • Relation between literature and universalism
  • Use of imagination as part of realism
  • Connection between literature and history 

Why is Literature Considered as the Realm of Idealism by some People?

  • The element of fiction 
  • The element of fantasy
  • Focus on subjective feelings and emotions
  • Portrayal of the objects of nature, especially in poetry 

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If one has a comprehensive look on the realm of literature, one comes to conclude that Ilabelling literature as a lonely planet of idealists is a huge injustice to literature. Such labelling not only reflects the parochial view of literature but also negates the correlation between literature and a society. Realistically speaking, literature has close nexus with the society. It is absolutely relevant to the era in which it is produced. In fact, it highlights the tendencies, aspirations, fears and challenges of the age in which it is produced. And, authors have a special place of importance in this respect. They are not only representatives of their era through whose works, the spirit of the age finds expression, but they also give voice to the feelings and emotions, fears and doubts, hopes and aspirations of their time. In other words, they are the mouthpiece of their age.

Briefly speaking, literature is not the haven of idealists. Instead, it is the realm of people having deep insight into the social, economic, political, religious and cultural issues of their era. In fact, the degree of correlation between literature and society is the touchstone against which the excellence of any literacy peace can be assessed.

The fact that literature is the quintessence of realism can be elaborated in many ways. The most prominent way through which literature relates with realism is portrayal of life. There is no denying the fact that the foundation of literature is life. Literature is not just connected to life. Rather it is the presentation of life. In fact, life is the raw material by which literature communicates a writer's novel and unique experiences of life. In this way, the link between literature and life is inseparable. Hence, treating literature as the world of idealists is the gross negation of this link.

Through its link with life, literature establishes its relevance with the society. The link between literature and society is so inherent that literature cannot be studied in the absence of social backdrop. There is no denying the fact that literature is, in fact, a mirror to the society. A literary man is the product of his society. His art is the outcome of his reaction to life. In other words, the artist is the exponent of the spirit of his time. Briefly speaking, literature is the outcome of all political, social, religious and economic changes of a particular age. Hence, viewing literature as the realm of idealism is quite unjustified and unfounded.

No one can deny the fact that literature and society are so interwoven that literature depicts the internal as well as external aspects of society. There are many authors who have brilliantly portrayed their societies internally as well as externally in their works. For instance, Chaucer, a representative poet of 14th century, has superbly depicted the social conditions of his time. The characters he has presented in his works belong to all walks of life, exploring different social issues. Similarly, Charles Dickens is also the representative author of his time. In his novel "Hard Times", he has brilliantly analyzed the socio-economic issues of his era like the disastrous effects of rapid growth of industrialization on human beings, especially change of human beings into machines by thwarting the development of their emotions and imagination, capitalists, exploitation of workers for their personal interests, etc. The dominant individual issues like monotony, boredom, absence of meaning in life can also be traced in his works. Likewise, in “War and Peace", Leo Tolstoy has also presented realistic portraits of every type of people belonging to different classes of the society.

Apart from the external aspect, literature also depicts the internal aspect of life, that is, the individual issues. No one can deny literature's focus on the human issues. There are many literary pieces which brilliantly portray boredom, despair, predicament of humans, anxiety, alienation, etc. They put more emphasis on characters' states of mind than the external environment. Instead of highlighting the social, political and economic issues, they highlight the personal issues of the individuals like loneliness, death, frustration, spiritual crisis, etc.

For instance, Anita Desai's novels are brilliant exponent of psychological problems of the individuals, exploring the disturbed human psyche. They explore the issues related with intrinsic nature of humans like alienation, anxiety, illusions, fantasies, dreams, fears, etc. Likewise, Albert Camus' novels are an excellent study of psychological issues of human beings like feeling of nothingness, alienation, boredom, etc. In short, the psychological issues highlighted by literature are the result of realism. These issues are not the figment of imagination. Instead, humans are confronted with these issues in the real world. Thus, considering literature as the mere domain of idealists is subjective approach rather than objective.

Although such literary pieces are individualistic, but it does not mean that they are the result of idealism. This is because it is not possible for any author to exclude altogether from his works the influence of the social environment in which he has grown. He is not raised in vacuum, but his personality is moulded by the main currents around his life. In other words, a writer is so much alive in a particular place and period of time that he is a part of a particular social, political, economic, moral and intellectual background.

Besides, he is also surrounded by a huge web of relationships both personal and impersonal and his development as an entity is the result of his conscious and unconscious reactions to those relationships. He observes them closely, assimilates them into his own experience and transforms them into the forms of creative works with a unique touch of his own. Thus, a literary piece is often the outcome of the interrelationship between the subjective author and the objective reality of the society around him. It can be said that a literary piece is a sincere, well-observed picture of the time in which it is conceived and created. It is the portrayal of manifestations of life as handled by the writer's personality. His distinctive imagination, his unique outlook and his feelings constitute the medium through which his readings of life are communicated to the reader.

There is no denying the fact that the issues portrayed by literature are the ones faced by human beings across the globe. These issues are not the figment of imagination of the writer. Rather, they are experienced by people in the real life. Furthermore, the problems depicted by literature are general in nature. Superficially, they may look like related to a specific group of people but if observed with insight, one comes to know that they are confronted by all human beings across the world. This is what makes literature universal in its nature. The nexus between literature and universalism is inseparable. Hence, authors are not just representatives of a specific nation but the entire human race. Hence, labelling literature as the realm of just idealism is the gross negation of this element of universality.

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Although the element of imagination cannot be denied in literature, but it does not mean that it makes literature lose its connection to reality. Apparently, some authors may seem imaginative but the fact is that they are relevant to the realities in future, instead of current realities. They are ahead of their times. Their thoughts and ideas may become pertinent in the future. Such authors are realists in a special sense. Use of imagination not only creates a distinction between a common man and an author, but it also lays foundation of development for the future generations. There is no denying that all the current scientific discoveries and inventions are the result of imaginations of authors of previous generations. This creates nexus between the scientist and author. An author conceives the idea, using his imagination, whereas the scientist turns it into reality by scientific discovery or invention. Thus, absolute reliance on the element of idealism in literature is the gross display of parochialism and subjectivity.

The nexus between literature and realism can also be highlighted by exploring the element of history in literature. There is no denying the fact that there are many literary pieces which serve as the historical chronicles of their times. Similarly, historical fiction is a popular form of literature which shows the deep connections between history and literature by having the writer study a particular era from the past in order to write a story. These stories may be wholly fictional or they might be fictionalized accounts of real people and real events. But they do contain the factual accuracy.

At this stage, it would be quite pertinent to mention the factors because of which literature is sometimes tagged as the domain of idealism. Most important of such factors is the presence of the element of fiction in some literary pieces. Among the different genres of literature, novel is perhaps the one which relies mostly on the element of fiction. The stories and events depicted in them are mostly the creation of a novelist's imagination. They are mostly not truthful depiction of real events. However, it is also a fact that although plot of the novel is based on fiction, but the element of realism is not completely ignored in novels. The way in which deep and broad development of characters and their circumstances are presented is manifestation of realism.

The situations in which main characters find themselves in are also typically realistic. These story lines frequently involve dual perspectives of the action: one representing the external situation itself, another internal conditions that coincide with, result from, or caused this series of events.

Another factor is the element of fantasy in some novels. The key element of the fantasy fiction is magic. Apart from magic, fairy tales, myths, and legends are part of the fantasy genre. Stories featuring wizards and sorcery, unicorn, supernatural Creatures: Elves, dragons, dwarves, enchanted plants, vampires, werewolves and talking animals are mostly part of fantasy. Through fantasy fiction, readers are allowed to visit a world which is entirely different from the real one. However, it is also a fact that the element of fantasy holds a meagre part in the world of literature. On the basis of fantasy, considering literature as the world of idealism is rather unjustified.

Coupled with fantasy, emphasis on subjective emotions and feelings, especially in poetry, is also the reason because of which some people consider literature as the planet of idealists. Many people consider poetry as the mere expression of poet's own feelings and emotions which have nothing to do with realities of life. However, this consideration is partially true. The fact of the matter is that there are many poets who have brilliantly explored the human issues in a realistic manner. For instance, T. S. Eliot has depicted the issues of modern civilization in realistic manner in his poetry. His poetry is an excellent expression of psychological issues of humans which appeared after World war I like fragile psychological state of humanity in the twentieth century, the trauma of World War I challenging cultural notions of masculine identity, fractured, alienated, and denigrated human identity, and human indecisiveness caused by the injured and paralysed state of mind due to crumbling culture.

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Similarly, the emphasis on natural objects in literature, especially in poetry is also a reason for which literature is termed as the realm of idealists. Such extraordinary emphasis is particularly visible in the romantic era poetry in which natural objects like daffodils, lakes, birds, mountains, etc. have been highlighted on large scale. The poetry of Wordsworth, John Keats is an obvious example in this regard. The poets of romantic era tried to escape from the issues of real world caused by industrialization by taking shelter in the lap of nature. But again, it could be said that such poetry holds a very nominal place in the world of literature. On the basis of such poetry, it is quite unjustified to consider literature as the domain of idealism.

Summing up the whole discussion, it could be said that literature is an honest and objective documentation of the era in which it is produced. It has an inseparable connection with society along with its intrinsic and extrinsic aspects. Literature is the artistic expression of thoughts, which is replete with feelings and imagination. On the basis of imagination, it cannot be termed as the realm of idealists, grossly negating the element of realism in literature. The issues depicted by literature are not only realistic but also universal. The element of realism and universalism go hand in hand in literary works. Literature portrays both how the world is and how it should be. This element of 'should be' creates space for improvement in the current world so that it could be made a better place to live in.
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Honey Notes: Literature is the Lonely Planet of Idealists - Outlines Essay
Literature is the Lonely Planet of Idealists - Outlines Essay
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