Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Name Your Poison

From: Allan Guthrie (
Date: 29 Aug 2006

A 'lesson', you say, Kerry? I'm sure there are many novelists who would be mortified to hear that they're giving lessons in morality. I certainly am. I hate didacticism. Apart from which, I'm unqualified as a moralist, being as how I'm a sick bastard. Doesn't stop me telling stories, though. Probably helps a little.


  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Kerry J. Schooley
  Sent: Tuesday, August 29, 2006 4:25 PM
  Subject: Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Name Your Poison

  At 07:52 PM 28/08/2006 -0400, you wrote:

>And, of course, there's entertainment. It's awfully puritanical to
>claim literature must give a moral lesson.

  I don't think the question is whether literature should give a moral lesson
  so much as that it does and unavoidably so.

  Literature is produced within a culture and one way or another it addresses
  the values of that culture, often by assumption, as it must to be taken as
  "real" or "meaningful" or even "entertaining" by its consumers.

  Culture defines reality or truth for its members. Morals are the guidelines
  for dealing with those realities. These truths and morals vary from culture
  to culture, and in large, complex cultures, there is room for variation
  within as well. Specific morals may prove to be wrong and the culture carry
  on, but in the long run, any culture without sufficient values and morals
  to support its survival will disappear, along with its literature.
  Individuals that leave their culture, never to return, are dead to that
  culture. If they do return and write about their experiences, they've
  returned to the debate about cultural values.

  Among the prime values of western civilization are those that support
  communication. The culture of communications has grown so large and complex
  it supports increasing numbers of competing truths, values, morals. By
  understanding that its content is composed of these "competing truths" or,
  if you prefer, lies, fiction becomes the only truthful literary form.

  my two cents and welcome to it,

  Literary events Calendar (South Ont.)
  The evil men do lives after them


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