One of the Great Joys of Literature Is That It’s Useles

From Publishing Perspectives:

When Publishing Perspectives asked Salman Rushdie today in his press conference (October 20) whether literature has a role in pushing back against the acceptance of “new normals” of authoritarianism and vulgarity seen in some book markets’ governments today he didn’t hesitate.

“I wish I could say yes to that,” he said,

“But I really resist the idea that literature has a role. I think one of the great joys of literature, one could say, is that it’s useless.

“What is the use of Alice in Wonderland? What is the use of The Lord of the Rings? Or Mrs. Dalloway?

“If it has a use, it’s to create beauty and to stimulate the mind. And maybe sometimes to challenge our assumptions, yes. “But don’t ask it to have a direct social function. That’s polemic. And I think polemics are very bad for literature.

“I don’t like books that tell me what to think. I like books that make me think.

“And that’s the difference. What literature can do is stimulate thought. And where that leads is up to the reader, not up to the writer to say.”

A journalist asked, “Do you want to say something about the book?—why it was important for you to write this book?”

Rushdie looked calmly back at the reporter and answered, “Well, it just seemed like an important subject to me.”

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives

PG says that Mr. Rushdie certainly knows how to generate press coverage.