How Life Helps Us Understand Literature (or vice versa)

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50142077n&w=455

Clay Hunt tried to deal with his PTSD by helping other people, but his pain was too much to bear. See his story on 60 Minutes.

Clay Hunt tried to deal with his PTSD by helping other people, but his pain was too much to bear. See his story on 60 Minutes.

If you’re writing an essay about Septimus, this is 14 minutes of must-watch TV.

And  if you’re not, you ought to watch it anyway. Because here’s the secret: we don’t analyze literature so we can know something about literature; we analyze literature so we can become more sophisticated readers more attuned to the nuances of texts so we can use them to more deeply understand our experiences and the experiences of the people who share the world with us. And experience participates in a cycle that allows us to better understand what we read so we can better understand who we are.

This piece, from Sunday night’s 60 Minutes, should give you some insight into what I’ve been calling the “enduring context,” into the truth behind Virginia Woolf’s characterization of Septimus. If you’re addressing Septimus in your Mrs. Dalloway essay, then let the truth of this video guide your analysis of the character. And for the rest of us, let this video just give you pause.

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