Is Happiness Literary?

That’s the topic for my last lecture in my Brit Lit course, which I worked on over the weekend, and I’ll present today. We’ve got ten authors with dark themes to sum up–Conrad, Achebe, Woolf, Pinter, Yeats, Owen, Eliot. I am determined to find the crack in these works that lets the light in. Yes, I found a way to reference Leonard Cohen😉

Coincidentally, over the weekend I read Sue Miller’s new novel The Lake Shore Limited. I wasn’t sure I’d find the courage, as it has a 9/11 theme and I’ve read so many of those this year. (James Hynes’s Next almost did me in. And I adore James Hynes.) So happy I read Miller. She’s been a favorite for a very long time, and did not disappoint. It’s a great writer’s book–as one of the characters is a playwright and she talks about her process. Nobody would read this book and call it cheerful. But in the end, there is the crack, and that’s how the light gets in.

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  1. Hi,I would like to know what you spoke on the lecture.
    I have been coming to this conclusion off late that all great literature n Art too celebrate sadness more.
    I have been so disappointed with books lately as most of them are so full of misery.
    Except of course the chick lit kind of books.


    1. I really came to the conclusion that we live in a world full of suffering and sadness but also light and joy. Writers in the 20th Century set their work in this world, and because conflict drives story, sometimes the darkness seems to overwhelm the work. I had fun with my class looking for the light inside all that darkness. And hey, nothing wrong with reading a little light romance or chick lit when things get too heavy.


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