This is a bi-weekly hop for the literary minded. This week's question is:
Should literature have a social, political, or any other type of agenda? Does having a clear agenda enhance or detract from its literary value?
I'm a little late chiming in on this one, but I think my answer is similar to lots of others. I don't think literature necessarily has to have an agenda. However, I do believe that all literature has social/cultural/political implications. I think some genres -dystopian fiction, satire, science fiction, or the philosophical novel for example- do usually have an agenda.
Books that do have an agenda can be well-written or poorly written. I'll take Margaret Atwood's novel, A Handmaid's Tale, as an example. It is well-written, compelling and it hasa clear political agenda. The aim of the satire in the novel is both specific and general. She is not bound to her time, although the novel is timely. The novel endures because, along with specific critique of governments and laws, there are universal themes as well: oppression and the power of storytelling, friendship and isolation.
Books that have an agenda specific to a time in place that fail to touch the universal, don't endure. Then, there are books with no particular social/political agenda, that tell us so much about a time period or humanity, that they endure as cultural products. That is what literature is: a product of culture, and so we learn a lot about ourselves and our history from reading it, or else it might not be worth reading.
Besides the hop this week, there is also the LITERARY GIVEAWAY HOP hosted at Leswammes' Blog:
I signed up for the giveaway hop a while back and I wasn't sure what to giveaway. However, I found a copy of Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson, in great condition at my library sale, and I decided on that. It is a previously loved book, but it is in great shape, and it is one of my favorites so far this year (read my review here). GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. THANKS FOR ENTERING.
Also be sure to check out all the other stops on the giveaway hop!