English Literature: William J. Long

It happens often that when I consciously think about how I came about reading a book, it seems like a lucky coincidence. A sale on Flipkart where I needed to buy a certain number of books to qualify and only certain books are part of the list and I end up buying Murakami's 1Q84 and it became the first (and till now - March 2020) Murakami I read. A book up for review on a virtual book tour. A book recommended by kindle. A friend mentioning it in the passing. A quote read somewhere. Reading about a book in another book. And very often these days, discovering an author on twitter.

Long's English Literature has a rather different story. While pursuing my Masters in English Literature a few years ago through distance education (IGNOU), I needed some help studying. And I met Mansi Arora (a wonderful person, but in no way related to me, though we share the same surname). She mentioned Long's book in the very first session and asked me to buy it. I ordered it right there and then. I read parts of the book, but not much, while studying for M.A.

Today, years later, with Masters completed, having started reading this book multiple times, with India under 21-day lockdown, I picked it up once again. 

Now at page 29, reading about the Anglo-Saxon Period, I am enjoying it, I am in awe of the writing, and I think if I start copying quotable sentences (something I do often) from this book, I would end up copying most of it. 

Why I chose to study literature, why I read books, why I write about books - these are questions I have been asked often. The first one is the most difficult to answer to most people.
The introduction of this book answers it precisely and in a detailed manner and with such beauty that I loved reading about why one reads literature. It encourages the enjoyment of literature over its study and analysis.

"To enter and enjoy this new world, to love good books for their own sake, is the chief thing; to analyze and explain them is a less joyous but still an important matter. Behind every book is a man; behind the man is the race; and behind the race are the natural and social environments whose influence is unconsciously reflected."

In no way relevant to what I am writing about, and in no way a criticism of what I am writing about because I understand that times change, and society and language does and should change with it, I notice how often the word 'man' is used in this book to refer to people. I wonder if this would in any way change as I read the book further and read about periods with many famous female authors.

I think (and I hope because I have the tendency to go off the blog for months at end at times) that I will be writing a lot more about this one.

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