The answers you get from literature depend upon the questons you pose?
What does this quotation mean for you? Do you agree with this quotation? What can we learn from reading literature?
Of course, one could ask, “Was this written by Samuel Clemens?” and then be in quite a bind.
So, yes, the answers you get from literature depend upon the questions you pose.
But I believe that part of what Margaret Atwood (not Artwood) says is that much of what we receive from reading literature is based upon what we put into it. Not only in effort, but also our perceptions of what we read are based on our backgrounds, our thoughts, biases, experiences, etc. If we have preconceptions, then we can often read the meanings that we would like to see.
Also, we may ask certain questions that are answered in literature via spurious analogies or fallacious extrapolation. For example, if we repeatedly read of drunken priests and dishonest Bostonians, we might feel those traits are common to the profession or locations, rather than understanding the context of why those broad allusions are often made.
Remember, Mrs. Atwood’s views are very relativistsic, and she places great emphasis on the subjective.
As a high school literature teacher, I tell my students that what you learn from literature is life.
Even if you, yourself, have not experienced something, you can still learn through a character’s experiences.
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