Guiding Philosophical Principles

Literature may be:

  • A microcosm of life that facilitates discovery and fosters empathy
  • A reflection of certain universal truths that allow us to see ourselves and others as part of a larger whole
  • Democratic and humanizing
  • Analyzed from multiple perspectives
  • A product of the time in which it was written; the author’s language may be a metaphor of the time period
  • Timeless; different interpretations may reflect the period in which a text is read

I will use the words of Azar Nafisi to further frame my view of literature:

  1. “A great novel heightens your senses and sensitivity to the complexities of life and of individuals, and prevents you from the self-righteousness that sees morality in fixed formulas about good and evil…”
  2. “I explained that most great works of the imagination were meant to make you feel like a stranger in your own home.  The best fiction always forced us to question what we took for granted.  It questioned traditions and expectations when they seemed too immutable.  I told my students I wanted them in their readings to consider in what ways these works unsettled them, made them a little uneasy, made them look around and consider the world, like Alice in Wonderland, through different eyes.”
  3. “In all great works of fiction, regardless of the grim reality they present, there is an affirmation of life against the transience of that life, an essential defiance.”
  4. “Do not, under any circumstances, belittle a work of fiction by trying to turn it into a carbon copy of real life; what we search for in fiction is not so much reality but the epiphany of truth.”
  5. “Fiction was not a panacea, but it did offer us a critical way of appraising and grasping the world.”


“Good fiction’s job is to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”
–David Foster Wallace

“Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider. Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.”

–Francis Bacon

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