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I sometimes wonder, how many of our books really would stand the test of time as the classics have, with an almost lack of literary value.
I sometimes feel that I don’t really belong to this era. Not the pace, not the ‘busy-ness’, not the lack of time, not the unrealistic expectations thrust on women and people in general, and last but not the the least the language.
As much as I enjoy reading contemporary writers, there is something magical about reading a Jane Austen or a Dickens, or Hardy, (despite their bleak themes).
Times are such that people these days don’t take the time to just be. This pretty much reflects every aspect of our life, right from the writing, to story telling, the wait to get to a place, or even to get something, and even the kind of enjoyment.
Gone are the days when one waited for the thing that their heart desired and relished it when they got it.
It could be something as simple as the joy of eating their favorite sweet, or even speaking to that special someone. Thanks to the new age communication avenues, reaching out to people has become almost too easy. One could simply post a message on WhatsApp just to avoid the awkwardness of actually speaking to the person.
Growing up, I really waited for the time when my mother returned from work, to bring me the letters my friends would have written to me over the holidays. I would then read and re-read the letters and savor every bit of information that my friends chose to share with me.
I feel sad for the current generation who cannot experience the joy of receiving a letter (or snail mail as they call it), addressed to them. I would then clear out my day and sit to write a reply to my said friend, telling her about the events of my day/week etc. I would weigh the events and put them in their order of prominence and use the choicest of words to describe my feeling.
Communication is pretty much instant these days. Almost no thought goes into putting words on paper. The pause that we applied before forming a sentence is all but gone. The paucity of expression evocative of sensitive emotion is all but absent.
Ever so often I come across an article or a story by some ‘young adults’. I am almost always left slightly underwhelmed by their use or lack thereof, of words to convey the actual meaning of the situation or person. More often than not, the slang or colloquial words take away the nuances of expression. The spoken word seeps into the written, so that one is indistinguishable from the other.
Very few know the difference between the colloquial use of a word versus its literary application. I sometimes wonder, how many of our books really would stand the test of time as the classics have.
How many works written these days persuade a reader to revisit the book time and again as the classics have? One never gets bored of perusing the old classics, Austen’s Persuasion for instance, the letter Captain Wentworth writes to Anne Elliot, or Darcy’s declaration of love to Elizabeth in the famous Pride and Prejudice. The words, sentences, phrases are almost iconic, and have oft been repeated word for word in more instances than one can count.
Among such literary gems, I am fortunate enough to have discovered one such writer whose works are so evocative of the time period she lived in, that one is almost taken back in time whilst reading her works. Maya Angelou. The two words are enough to conjure a plethora of emotions. In her book ‘I know why the caged bird sings’, she paints a very bleak picture of her home town of Stamps in Arkansas, and yet there is something so poignant in the way she threads the words into a sentence that it leaves you in awe. In awe of her wisdom, her eloquence, and simplicity of expression.
So amidst all the current and contemporary works of fiction and non fiction I am sanguine that there is hope, that people will revert to a period where time passes slower, and produce many more such meaningful works that reclaim the lost art of written word.
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