Love / Hate Relationship: Politics

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Foster explains on page 109, "I hate "political" writing--- novels, plays, poems. They don't travel well, don't age well, and generally aren't much good in their own time and place,...."
A lot of political writing is overly biased. There is a lot of bashing of a single person or group, for whatever reason, even if the reason is not always good. In a lot of these works, negativity is focused on a group for such biased reasons that the work is not received well. It is interesting that some of the great literary works that have stood the test of time are political. "I love "political" writing. Writing that engages the realities of the world....." comments Foster on page 110. In the past, lot of people disguised their ideas in their works during times when they  knew that they could be executed for stating such ideas. A lot of their stories that involve wrong doings of people in power tend to stand the test of time simply because of the funny way history repeats itself. Works that compel the populous long ago continue to inspire the many centuries after the work was actually written, and often times the work is not discovered until after the author is dead or even many many more years after that. The fact that such works influence the minds of people of so many different generations is amazing to me.
http://jerz.setonhill.edu/EL267/2009/02/foster_how_to_read_literature_2/

4 Comments

I think that literary works that are political stand the test of time only when they link the politics to some kind of universal theme. If something is written based solely on the politics of the day, it'll lose its meaning for future generations once the politics of those past societies are dead. For example, Arthur Miller has stated that he wrote The Crucible in reaction to the McCarthy trials that were going on at the time; however, he set the play during the Salem witch trials to take the play out of the specific politics of its time to comment on something more universal. The universal issue of the hysteria that arises from people blaming others for things they have no proof of is something that applies to the McCarthy trials but can also be applied to many events throughout history. Successful political works always extrapolate from the specific to the universal.

He does say he loves and hates it, but Foster also mentions how every work, even if we don't realize it, is political. it captures what was going on at the time for us readers today, whether the author means to do that or not. Current events, Foster says, ARE political. Therefore; most works of literature are political, even the slightest bit.

http://blogs.setonhill.edu/AngelaSaffer/2009/02/politics.html

Justin Iellimo said:

I agree with Matt on the fact that political works that link with universal themes have a tendency to last. Ideas or stories that exploit human flaws are a nice universal theme because human flaws and corruption have existed forever and in every culture. When a work focuses on a universal theme, the work can then cross cultures and stand the test of time more easily.

Andrew Adams said:

I also wrote about this topic, pretty much the same quote. I totally agree with you that some political writing is extremely biased and attacks certain individuals instead of the ideas themselves. I talked about how much more effective it is to create a story to show how humans could act to bring out a flaw in something rather than just saying it's wrong. I used the example of Catch 22 pointing out flaws in military leaders as opposed to something that just bashes a current military leader. Books like Catch 22 have way more staying power.

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