“Human nature is not black, or white, or brown; it does not speak English or Tagalog; it is not prehistoric, medieval, or postmodern; it does not lean towards deep-sea fishing, pig farming, or business administration. Such details will inevitably feature in a literary work, but they are secondary to what a good poem, novel, or play has to offer.”
–Hans Bertens, from “Literary Theory: the basics”.
I’m trudging though the reading for the class this semester, Critical Literary Theory, and admittedly the reading is more exciting than I thought it would be for a class with such a name. When I read that portion this evening, I was struck — hit with something that every single human on the planet suffers from. Our own nature.
I’ve been reading about New Criticism and Practical Criticism and Structuralism; all things relating to literary theory. And though the idea that writers write themselves onto a page is common, the nature of our humanity is truly universal.
This idea – that it matters not our color, our language, the time of our existence, nor our vocation – is truly liberating. We all feel pain, love, loss, anger, hatred, confusion, pride, envy, greed, and even nothing. We read poems and stories to connect with another human who wrote something inevitably representative of our human nature.