Just another reason why I love literature.

It gives you passages like this one:

“The terrible thing is, the people need to be educated, and this they cannot do before taking power, only after. They can only learn at the cost of their own mistakes, which will be very serious and will cost many innocent lives. Or perhaps not, maybe those lives will not have been innocent because they will have committed the huge sin against nature; meaning, a lack of ability to adapt. All of them, those unable to adapt- you and I for example- will die cursing the power they helped, through great sacrifice, to create. Revolution is impersonal; it will take their lives, even utilizing their memory as an example or as an instrument for domesticating the youth who follow them. My sin is greater because I, more astute and with greater experience, call it what you like, will die knowing that my sacrifice stems only from an inflexibility symbolizing our rotten civilization, which is crumbling. I also know- and this won’t alter the course of history or your personal view of me- that you will die with a clenched fist and a tense jaw, the epitome of hatred and struggle because you are not a symbol (some inanimate example) but a genuine member of the society to be destroyed; the spirit of the beehive speaks through your mouth and motivates your actions. You are as useful as I am, but you are not aware of how useful your contribution is to the society that sacrifices you.”

“I saw his teeth and the cheeky grin with which he foretold history, I felt his handshake and, like a distant murmur, his formal goodbye. The night, folding in at contact with his words, overtook me again, enveloping me within it. But despite his words, I now knew… I knew that when the great guiding spirit cleaves humanity into two agnostic halves, I would be with the people. I know this, I see it printed in the night sky that I, eclectic dissembler of doctrine and psychoanalyst of dogma, howling like one possessed, will assault the barricades or the trenches, will take my bloodstained weapon and, consumed with fury slaughter any enemy who falls into my hands. And I see, as if great exhaustion smothers this fresh exaltation, I see myself immolated in the genuine revolution, the greater equalizer of individual will, proclaiming the ultimate meacupla. I feel my nostrils dilate, savoring the acrid smell of gunpowder and blood, of the enemy’s death; I steel my body, ready to do battle, and prepare myself to be a sacred space within which the bestial howl of triumphant proletariat can resound with new energy and new hope.”

This fantastic excerpt is from the amazing book The Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara. I was rereading the book for my travel writing midterm tomorrow, and this just popped out. I love when that happens; when I am reading a book and all of the sudden this amazing quote, line, or paragraph sticks out and takes on a whole new meaning. Take for example a small passage that struck me as terribly haunting when I read Joseph Conrad’s short story An Outpost of Progress:

“The wicked people were gone, but fear remained. Fear always remains. A man may destroy everything within himself, love and hate and belief, and even doubt; but as long as he clings to life he cannot destroy fear: the fear, subtle, indestructible, and terrible, that pervades his being; that tinges his thoughts; that lurks in his heart; that watches on his lips the struggles of his last breath.”

That is probably one of my favorite excerpts from any piece of literature I have read. It is so beautiful, so eerie, and so true. People always ask me why I want to teach- of all things- literature. I never really know how to relpy to that question. It’s my passion; I can’t see myself doing anything else. But every time I reread my little excerpts it gives me a chance to go back and think of what I would say if someone asked me why.  There is so much you can take away from reading a book for the first time or for the millionth time that you never noticed was there. Conrad, Dickens, Shakespeare, Orwell, etc.- these guys knew how to write books. And I can not thank them enough.

Along with this I have been thinking about my book challenge. I’m adding a few books to my list for right now, though they may change. But if anyone has recommendations, I’m always listening.

My list so far, in no particular order:

1. Looking for Alaska- John Green

2. An Abundance of Katherines- John Green

3. Paper Towns- John Green

4. Lord of the Flies- William Golding

5. The Great Gatsby- F. Scott Fitzgerald

6. 1984- George Orwell

7. Animal Farm- George Orwell

8. The Gun Seller- Hugh Laurie

9. Paper Soldiers- Hugh Laurie

10. Twelfth Night- William Shakespeare

11-18. The Harry Potter series- JK Rowling

19. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings- Maya Angelou

20. The Chocolate War- Robert Cormier

21. A Bridge to Terabithia- Katherine Paterson ** I don’t know why I want to read this. The movie was horribly, horribly sad and made both me and my grandfather cry. Okay so he let out like, one single tear and I was blubbering. Whats your point?

22. Catcher in the Rye- J.D. Salinger

23. The Bell Jar- Sylvia Plath

24. Lullabies for Little Criminals- Heather O’Neill

25. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas- John Boyne

26. In Cold Blood- Capote

27. Feed- M. T. Anderson

28. The Hunchback of Notre Dame- Victor Hugo

29. The Lady and the Little Foxfur- Violette Leduc

30. Catch 22- Joseph Heller



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3 responses to “Just another reason why I love literature.

  1. Fantastic passage from Che’s diary. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  2. Would you PLEASE read The Three Musketeers. It’s what Alexander Dumas would want.

  3. improbablefiction

    It was already on my list! I just didn’t write it on here. That and The Count of Monte Cristo, because I love it oh so much. Oh and A Christmas Carol. And Wuthering Heights.


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