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PUC-RJ 2005

What is Literature?

            The subjects we study at school can be divided roughly into two groups: the sciences and the arts. The sciences include mathematics, geography, chemistry, physics and so on. Among the arts are drawing, painting, modelling, needlework, drama, music, literature. The purpose of education is to fit us for life in a civilized community, and it seems to follow from the subjects we study that the two most important things in civilized life are Art and Science.

      Is this really true? If we take an average day in the life of the average man we seem to see very little evidence of concern with the sciences and the arts. The average man gets up, goes to work, eats his meals, reads the newspapers, watches television, goes to the cinema, goes to bed, sleeps, wakes up, starts all over again.

    Unless we happen to be professional scientists, laboratory experiments and formulae have ceased to have any meaning for most of us; unless we happen to be poets or painters or musicians _ or teachers of literature, painting, and music _ the arts seem to us to be only the concern of schoolchildren. And yet people have said, and still say, that the great glories of our civilization are the scientists and artists.

From: BURGESS, Anthony. English Literature. Longman, Hong Kong, 1993.


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