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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 11 2013: Novels explore ideas, usually via a narrative structure that mimics life.
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      Jun 3 2013: Amgad, my friend, you courageously persist with your question: why do we love novels or not? The fact that you pose it several times shows you have not yet received an answer. Perhaps the focus should be how do novels spark appreciation or not? There haven’t been any comments addressing that, maybe because we don’t really know how they please us, only that they do, or don’t.
      Excluding my previous rant about words being the all-important medium, let’s look at the plot, characters, and message, if there is one. Does the plot needs a beginning, middle and end? That’s a bit linear. Consider the effective flashbacks in movies, showing events that are explained much later. I would quite enjoy a novel that began with “Rest in peace, you miserable bastard!” and then be carried to an earlier time to learn why the deceased deserved that final salute.
      An end? Jeffrey Archer wrote a short story that had no end, asking the reader to select one. That was fun. A middle? Does your life have a middle? I doubt it, given all the peaks and valleys that often fling us onto different trails, causing us to start again.
      Many say they emerge with new knowledge, fresh perspectives, donated experiences that allow one to avoid the possible pain or mistakes of the personal challenge. Valuable indeed, if that’s true. Grisham hasn't taught me how to be a lawyer, broker or corporate partner.
      We can, however, walk the sewage-filled London streets with Dickens and see how far we have come. Why do we like Fagin but hate Scrooge? Therein lies his art. We can wonder at the convoluted system of marriage with the Bronte sisters and Austen. So the ‘how?’ could be authors’ exposures of what we once were, what we might have continued to be, what we are now and what we might become. Those are valuable lessons, aren’t they?
      I’ll stop here, but fortunately, this will not mean the end of this thread.

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