I’m just back from a great conversation with my friend Catherine Styker about literature and the next generation during which I realized that the next generation will know nothing of the Brothers Karamazov, or Charles Dickens, or Shakespeare, or Homer, unless we act as a bridge to these great authors.
That is: unless we tell them why these great works are worth their time and energy. they will never take the trouble to read them. Once we send them on this path, they’re clearly bright enough to understand these works, but it’s up to us to explain why they should want to.
I have always believed that the love of literature is like the rivers of the world. It leads, eventually, to the sea, wherever it happens to start. At some point the student realizes he or she has taken their place in the evolution of the life of the mind, and they see that they are the heirs of Dickens and Dostoyesky. But it is up to us to introduce them to these great authors. The educational system is not going to do it.
So if you have a favorite work of literature, write a bridge to it for the coming generation. They will probably love the work, and it’s something they will NEVER find in schools.