What good is a novel anyway? To put it another way: why do I read?
First, the usual answers. To be transported. To empathise. To be entertained. All of these are valid; one would need no other grounds to pick up a book.
There is, however, a reason more compelling than the above, one that encloses all of them.
I read because novels chart for me the changes that have happened, that will happen and that are happening today.
The proper subject of each and every novel is the replacement of one state of affairs by another. Every such novel is a challenge to the status quo, an act of sedition that maps a revolution.
These transformations needn't be on a large scale: such change applies to individuals as well as societies. Sometimes, changes within mirror changes without. Some of them, we recognise in ourselves; some create understanding; and some open our eyes.
And so Jay Gatsby meets a sad end. Emma Bovary has another desperate affair. Stephen Dedalus discovers his true calling. Tom JoadRead More »from The Axe Effect