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Alexander the Great learned to read and write by studying Homer's Iliad. Thanks to his teacher, the philosopher Aristotle, he had done so with unusual intensity. When Alexander embarked on his conquests, a copy of the Iliad accompanied him.
Homer's Iliad helped to shape an entire society and its ethics. The story revealed the kind of effect moral choices could have on the general public.
As more and more parts of the world became literate, new technologies such as paper and print increased the reach and influence of written stories. More readers meant new stories started to appear.
When Dante Alighieri wrote his Comedy in the spoken dialect of Tuscany, it helped to turn the dialect into a legitimate language we now call Italian.
The era of mass production and mass literacy we have today is the result of the invention of print in northern Europe by Johannes Gutenburg.
Novels didn't have the baggage associated with ancient forms of literature. They allowed new types of authors and readers, especially women who used novels to engage with the most pressing questions of modern society.
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is at the forefront of what would come to be known as science fiction, revealing the promise of science and its destructive potential.
Similarly, novels were used by emerging countries to assert their independence. Political independence needed cultural independence, and novels proved the best way of gaining it.
The printing press also made it easier to control and censor literature. It became a problem for authors living in regimes such as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union.
Today, we are living through another revolution in writing technologies. The internet is changing how we read and write, how literature spreads, and who has access to it.
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The differences in how people have loved throughout history suggest that our style of loving is to a significant extent determined by what the prevailing environment dictates.
It is through ...
... are crucial elements of wisdom, realism and maturity. Our love stories excite us to expect things of love that are neither very possible nor very practical.
We learn to judge ourselves by the hopes and expectations fostered by a misleading artistic medium.
Emma Bovary in Madame Bovary (1856) spent her childhood immersed in Romantic fiction. As a result, she’s expecting that her husband will be someone who understands her soul perfectly.
When she does get married to the kind, thoughtful but human. But she is quickly bored by the routines of married life. She is convinced that her life has gone profoundly wrong for one central reason: because it’s so different from what the novels she knows told her it would be.
Reading aloud is great for elderly people and can delay the onset of dementia and also make certain memory problems detectable at an early stage.
Boredom is one of the most important factors in creativity. Boredom is a productive state as long as you don't let it get to you.
Agatha Christie said there is nothing like boredom...
When we're bored, two key things are happening in our minds: One is a 'desire bind' where someone wants to do something but not anything that's on offer. The other is when your mind is itching to be engaged.
Our first instinct when we experience some boredom is to fill it with Netflix lists, Instagram feeds, and TikTok videos. Riding out this boredom is vital though.
Boredom is not in itself creative. It's what it leads to that is significant. In the gap of boredom, you're motivated to look for something else, and there's a real chance you'll discover something new.