Doublets: Literature as the Voice of Conscience

I believe that literature is the principle voice of the conscience, and it is its duty age after age to affirm its morality against the specific moralities of clergymen and churches; and of kings and parliaments and peoples.

Excerpt from a letter by W. B. Yeats to the editor of the Freeman’s Journal (November 14, 1901)

I believe that world literature has it in its power to help mankind, in these its troubled hours, to see itself as it really is, notwithstanding the indoctrinations of prejudiced people and parties. World literature has it in its power to convey condensed experience from one land to another so that we might cease to be split and dazzled, that the different scales of values might be made to agree, and one nation learn correctly and concisely the true history of another with such strength of recognition and painful awareness as it had itself experienced the same, and thus might it be spared from repeating the same cruel mistakes.

Excerpt from the speech by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, winner of the Nobel Prize in literature in 1970, delivered to the Swedish Academy.

Read related posts: Doublets: Love
Doublets: Genius
Doublets: Youth and Maturity
Doublets: You Cannot Run Away From Yourself
Doublets: The Lessons of History
Doublets: Reading a Great Book
Doublets: Tolerance
Doublets: The Role of Religion
Doublets: Things Left Unsaid

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