“Great literature belongs not to one age but to all ages; not to one country but all countries”. Discuss.
Literature, a narrative of human events, reflects all the hopes, emotions, feelings, sorrows and frustrations that men have had in the course of their long struggle for survival in this beautiful world. Its appeal is therefore universal.
Since the time men learned how to read and write, some people have always felt the urge to exercise their literary skills for the sheer pleasure of writing. Fascinated by the beauty of language and ideas, many scholars, since the dawn of history, have engaged themselves in exploring new avenues of thought, and in the process contributed to the production of great literary works. The sufferings of humanity have also contributed their share in impelling writers in all lands to write in the most vivid and expressive language.
As man is the theme of all literature, any great literature is appreciated in all countries, at all times. The works of great writers, such as Homer and Shakespeare, have indeed become immortal for their universal appeal. They have been read for centuries in all countries. Such writers have revealed human nature to all generation of men. It is now realized that the fundamental emotions and desires of men are the same everywhere, though they may be divided by race, language and culture. Even their problems are the same. An Asian has the same problems of obtaining food or for providing for his family as a European has. Both laugh at and cry for the same things. The recognition of these facts has increased the feelings of oneness among the people of the world.
The ideas that have been expressed by great writers have influenced the people of all countries. When a good idea is expressed by a writer of one country, it is absorbed by people in many other lands. The ideas that the Greeks had centuries ago on a government and society have continued to influence the minds of men till this day. In the same way, the literature of many other countries has influenced the thinking of the people of the world.
Great literature reveals the common ties that exist among men. By emphasizing the bonds of sympathy between men, it helps the people of one country to look with affection upon the people of another country, and makes men conscious of their common destiny. For this reason, many great works in one language have been translated into several other languages. This had the effect of promoting better understanding among the people of the world and widening the mental horizons of men. There is therefore a great urge today to read the literature and history of all countries. Thus, there is much truth in the statement that “Great literature belongs not to one age but to all ages; not to one country but to all countries”.
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