Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Learning arts of adult life from novels

Talk with Chandrahas ChoudhuryThe Indian novelist and literary critic Chandrahas Choudhury will give a one-hour talk on the subject ‘Ten Ways To Change Your Life By Reading Novels’ on Saturday, the 19th of February, at 5pm at the Alliance Francaise, Lodhi Road.

In an age of self-help literature or the literature of ‘fact and analysis’, novels are sometimes thought of as dispensable books, to be read either to pass the time or perhaps to learn something about a country or a culture.
But what novels can most powerfully do for you, far more than any other kind of literature, is open up your own sense of yourself. More than any other form of writing, novels offer a vivid and complex education in all the arts of adult life, offering us ways to understand the range and depth of human choice, the possibilities and limitations Talk Ten Ways You Can Change Your Life By Reading Novels of various individual and communal ways of living, and the importance of the private and the sexual life of individuals to the health of society.
Novels teach us to respect language, showing us how better language leads to better thought. They allow us to develop a more complex understanding of time, by showing us the ways in which memory works in human beings, and how our decisions are always contingent on particular constellations of circumstances.
They demonstrate to us how doubt is just as useful a human virtue as certainty, and that the good life must respect both rationality and strong emotion. And by never offering any explicit advice, they in fact offer the best kind of help – the confidence that trusts the reader, as an adult, to make up his or her mind after considering all the evidence. The wisdom of the novel is not the wisdom of answers, but that of questions.
Choudhury will make his points with concrete examples from novels by a wide range of writers, including Orhan Pamuk, Irene Nemirovsky, Vikram Chandra, and Kazuo Ishiguro. For more information, please call us at 11 43 500 222 / 218 or send an email at culture@afdelhi.org.