In connection with Welty’s influence on the liberation of her readers comes the third and last point of this study. And that is actually the fact that reading could emancipate a person from some sort of repression from her society. And the best way to describe this would be through reading the works of Katha Pollitt, a popular Feminist critic and a columnist and associate editor of The Nation. Pollitt basically states that there are more than a thousand reasons why one actually reads. And she firmly criticizes the viewpoint of literary canons that there are just specific books that one should read.
According to Pollitt: Sure, we read to understand our American culture and history, and we also read to recover neglected masterpieces, and to learn more about the accomplishments of our subgroup and thereby, as I’ve admitted about myself, increase our self-esteem. But what about reading for the aesthetic pleasures of language, form, image? What about reading to learn something new, to have a vicarious adventure, to follow the workings of an interesting, if possible skewed, narrow and ill-tempered mind? What about reading for the story?
For an expanded sense of sheer human variety? There are a thousand reasons why a book might have a claim on our time and attention other than its canonization. (13-14) As for Pollitt, a literary canon should actually not matter particularly in designating or describing what or which are the great books and who are the cultured writers that one should trust. By reading the works of Pollitt, one could see that she uses her writing skills in liberating her readers from ignorance particularly the women sector.
She is actually expressing her views as a feminist critic and writer and hence, affecting the minds of her readers whether male or female (but more emphasis is given on the women). Pollitt gives more importance on the repression that women are forced to face in this troublesome society. But she does not only leave everything at that. The author actually gives facts and actions on how to end the crises of women and this she shows through her writing style and her advantage of being a well-read and popular columnist of The Nation.
Pollitt does not only use her writing skills and her chance to be read by many by just talking or discussing about simple and senseless issues. Instead, the author maximizes this opportunity by embarking upon social and political issues as proven by this statement: For these burly and strenuous purposes, books are all but useless. The way books affect us is an altogether more subtle, delicate, wayward and individual, not to say private, affair. And that reading is being made to bear such an inappropriate and simplistic burden speaks to the poverty both of culture and of frank political discussion in our time.
(Pollitt, 15-16) This only proves that reading books and commentaries by other people would actually broaden one’s knowledge about one’s society. Aside from this, reading such articles could also prove that reading per se should not only be stereotyped as a leisurely thing to do but more than that, it’s a very sensible habit as well. After everything has been said and done, one could actually see that reading indeed has several uses in one’s life.
It could be as minor as a hobby and of paramount importance as a way to liberate oneself or even one huge sector in the society. With this, one cannot dismiss the fact that reading has already made a huge impact on the state of the society today as proven by the long and tedious history of struggle of writers and readers who view reading as a tool for expressing oneself and extending one’s imagination over its said limit, a tool for liberation from human bondages, and a concrete action to fight for one’s right over other’s superiority.
Nabokov, V. “Good Readers and Good Writers,” Lectures on Literature. New York: Harcourt Brace, pp. 1-6, 1980. Pollitt, K. “Does a Literary Canon Matters,” in The Norton Reader, Linda Peterson, John Brereton, eds, 11th edn. W. W. Norton & Company, 2003. Welty, E. One Writer’s Beginnings, Harvard University Press, 1984.