Saturday, November 6, 2010

Literary Love

The other day I was on facebook, a terrible vice I have. Anyway, I saw a group that was titled “Edward is a fictional character and he will never love you.” The group was classified under religious causes. When I first saw it I laughed and proceeded on my merry, procrastinating way. Then I realized that while I had laughed at the statement, I disagreed with it.

When we read we are sharing the stories of these fascinating characters. This is the gift that books give us. All you have to do is open them and they will share their entire world with you. If you don’t like what the book has to offer you simply have to shut it and return to whatever you were doing before you started it. Cornelia Funke said it beautifully in her book Inkdeath "The world was a terrible place, cruel, pitiless, dark as a bad dream. Not a good place to live. Only in books could you find pity, comfort, happiness - and love. Books loved anyone who opened them, they gave you security and friendship and didn't ask anything in return; they never went away, never, not even when you treated them badly."

I don’t mean this to sound like reading is a completely shallow practice, a rent-a-friend type of simple gratification for people who can’t have real relationships. Reading is not a substitute for having “real life”. But I don’t feel that anyone who truly loves reading will claim that this is why they read. Reading isn’t to satisfy a lack of social outlet, it is introspective. It is a way to understand yourself, to see things that only you can see. Reading is very much a personal relationship with you and the author, confessing their secret wishes and fears with you, through the experiences and words of their characters. You in return give your time to consider what they have just told you. Even when reading a book out loud or with some else, the two of you are not going to see the same story or meet the exact same characters. You are two completely different people, and your individual interpretations of the story will reflect you and your life.

I guess it depends on your interpretation of love. I don’t know that I would want any of my favorite romantic heroes in my actual personal life. They are easy to perceive as perfect because of how they interact with the other characters in a setting completely different from my own life. I don’t think Aragorn would really fit into my life.

So I suppose that my response to the group above is that Edward already does love me. He loves me more than Mr. Rochester, though not as much as Mr. Darcy, Sir Percy Blakeney and Harry Potter.I know they love me because they have shared everything with me. They have included me in the celebrations of their victories, I have been trusted with their secret plots and conspiracies, and been there when everyone else left them abandoned, betrayed and hopeless.I have seen myself and the world around me a little differently because of what these characters and the authors who created them have shared with me. Because of this I am a little better.

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