The History of Literature

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Grant Snider has summed up Conflict in Literature in a delightful comic:

Grant Snider, Conflict in Literature

Hat Tip

Three of my favorite books presented themselves, one for each era:

  1. Classical - Till We Have Faces (Man vs God)
  2. Modern - The Gammage Cup (Man vs Society)
  3. Postmodern - A Barrel of Laughs, A Vale of Tears (Man vs Author)

The more I contemplate this breakdown of human thought and experience, the more insightful the simplicity becomes. We can see history itself unfolding.

When we live alone with our families on our farms, we face the encroachment of nature back into a our clearings. When we band together into groups, we must address the tensions created by different perspectives, expectations, and expressions. And today, isolated in our techno-bubbles, we experience a loss of control as we trade it for convenience.

Similarly, the shift upward in Maslow's Hierarchy as we create comfortable lives for ourselves leads us away from conflicts with individuals, through self-doubt, to broader questions of truth (what is murder? what is marriage?).

The third section is very intriguing to me. We've exchanged one all-powerful Entity for another, swapping God for our creative selves after giving up the empty exploration of a world without purpose (The Sun Also Rises, I'm looking at you). I very much enjoy the playfulness of authors and characters interacting, and I wonder if that will lead us to new ways of understanding how God connects with us today.

We can learn a lot from literature (we have an entire homeschool curriculum built around that very idea). I was pleasantly encouraged to see the wheel of history turning behind the broader themes we humans wrestle with in our stories.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Guardian

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