Thursday, September 6, 2012

Fiction anyone????

The book above is fiction that chronicles social change in
our country and a well written tale it is, too!

Question: You used to print a lot of non-fiction, but now you guys only publish fiction. How come? Non-fiction books are the kind that make people think? If you can't learn something from a book, what good is it, except a pleasant pastime? Don't you people want to publish important books???

Answer: Actually, all the books we publish are always important to us. 

Fiction is a pleasant way to pass the time, but it also does something non-fiction books cannot do. It touches the heart as well as the mind. It makes the reader care about the people involved.

Take Dickens, for instance. He grew up a disadvantaged child, in a land where there were no public schools for the lower classes. He was raised in an age where social entitlements were unthinkable, and if you were sick, naked and hungry, nobody cared. Charity was the duty of relatives. Often of reluctant relatives who had little enough to get by on themselves.

He wrote for the upper classes who read for pleasure, in an age when the lower classes largely were illiterate. Rather than concentrating on the genteel poor, as Jane Austin had, or the landed gentry as most of his contemporaries did, Dickens wrote about the lower classes. People who lived in poverty, in squalor, and who often didn't wash or even eat regularly.

In a time where the upper classes ruled, Dickens alone made the plight of the lower classes understandable to members of parliament and the House of Lords. He cared and because he cared about his characters, they came to care about similar people who lived in their cities.

Dickens has fallen out of favor with the academics now. Few college instructors take time to note the enormous social change his work inspired. He wrote movingingly of his horrible childhood and what it was like to be poor and was read widely by the upper classes, who then voted to change the deplorable social conditions he depicted so vividly. 

When Dickens began to write, there were no public schools for the lower classes, no regulated housing for the poor. No housing codes, not fire regulations, nothing. No organizations were around to address the needs of those less fortunate. Widows, orphans, the sick, aged, and  hungry had no place to go, when Mr. Dickens started to write. By the time he was done, none of that was any longer true.

Non-fiction gives you information you may need, But fiction involves the reader's emotions and makes him or her care what is happening to people.

And don't even get me started on Harriet Beecher Stowe!

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