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Author Archive: "Richard Bausch"

Why Literature Can Save Us

Our title is, of course, a problem. "Why Literature Can Save Us." And of course the problem is one of definition: what those words mean. What is literature and what constitutes salvation?

So I'll begin with a brief surface definition of the terms, since we probably all have our own and various ideas about what is contained in the phrase. We know the word literature comes from the Latin plural litterae, which means "letters." And we know that the meaning of salvation is almost as various as the kinds of people we may encounter. I believe the sense I intend will become evident as we proceed; but I should say at the beginning that I am not talking about salvation from near or present dangers, or threats to our safety. At least not directly. Emily Dickinson says we should "tell it slant," and so this is what I will attempt to do.

There is a form of imaginative genius present in every act of mercy. I believe that if the person who has the power to destroy another life can be given the ability, the gift, of seeing ...


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