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Amgad Muhammad

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What's the point of novels?

All of us would agree that reading for facts and knowledge widens our perspective, but what does reading novels do?
Do we read novels for the sole purpose of entertaining ourselves or does it make us intelligent in some way?
How can one take lessons from a story that was made up and characters that do not exist?

Is reading novels just a waste of time? a sort of video game for those who like to read?


Topics: books

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  • May 8 2013: I nearly wept when I read this, specially from someone coming from Heliopolis.

    For those that don't know before the Great Library of Alexandria, there was Heliopolis. Everyone including the likes of Pythagoras, Herodotus, Ptolemy, Plato, Orpheus, Homer, visited there, learned there, exchanged ideas there.

    Now consider that, democracy, philosophy, and believe it or not the structure of plays (and so our modern day novels) all stems from the learning and understanding of the Ancient Greeks and Ancient Egyptians.

    But what were these plays for? And similarly what are novels for? Well in fact every novel, every play, every story tells us something about the human experience, of human nature, a tale of morality if you wish, or simply put the exchange of ideas. And so by seeing them, by reading them, we inherently learn about ourselves, and hopefully we realize and understand more about who we are, and avoid the tragedies and comedy of errors, and drama, that beset us on all sides as we travel through this life. And through such realization and understanding hopefully we can become better, tolerant and a more enlightened humanity.

    So Amgad be like the phoenix rise from the ashes, of misunderstanding of novels, on the altar of the very sun god which happily and conveniently is located in... Heliopolis.

    I hope to see you, and many others, one day, in the great city of Heliopolis. That is my dream.
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      May 8 2013: Hi Tify, I think this is a misunderstanding.
      I'm not anti-novels, in fact, half of the books I read are novels.
      This discussion is not meant for people to defend novels but rather to define that thing we experience through the pages that I personally cannot name. I wanted to know what the people of TED thinks of novels, whether they knew why we love them or not.

      I know that novels deepens something in us that we can't tackle with other forms of art. But I don't know why or how, I thought it would be nice to discuss it here.

      Hope I cleared it out.
      • May 8 2013: Hi Amgad, no my friend no misunderstanding :)

        I get what you meant, but I, like the ancient Egyptians, tend to encode answers, which will lead you to ask more questions. At least I hope it does, because when it does, it forms a tree of questions and answers, that tree being the tree of knowledge. And as a tutor, I always like to encourage people to find the answers themselves (with a little help) as it's more satisfying to the questioner to believe they found it out, to see (pupil) for themselves, as it further encourages them to know they have that capability to find out so much more.

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