It's funny how pivotal our exposure to literature is and how it shapes our lives and influences who we become from a very young age. How powerful words are! We never think about it. And yet St. John tells us "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God." He then tells us "All things were made through Him." The WORD made us. The word creates. And it has been going through my mind lately just what particular words created me.
I should clarify that I am not among those sorts of people who are merely pagans worshipping the god "Art." And I do not mean to imply that the literature which shaped my life was my true creator. I am only drawing a parallel between the power of God to create the cosmos and the power of words to reflect His nature and influence the way in which we come to understand Him. If that makes sense.
There have been many books which have had little important influences on me throughout my life. If I wanted to be extremely thorough and long-winded I would even say that certain nursery books like "Close Your Eyes" and "Goodnight Moon" were important in one way or another. But then I believe the power of the written word and how it plays on one's imagination will have some noteworthy effect--if only to clarify for the reader that he thinks such-and-such a writer is a complete git and has no notion of natural human feeling. (Yes, I've read a few of those). If one really examines their reactions to any piece of literature (or art or drama) I suspect they will discover something, however small, about themselves. But I will only mention here the books that I think have been the most important to me in my life. So far.
I have to confess that I feel remarkably conceited to think anyone should care two pins about my little autobiography in literature. I do not think I am really particularly interesting and aside from the birth of my two beautiful children I have accomplished relatively nothing. But I should be interested to know if anyone else reading this can relate to or has a similar story about their own experience with literature. And for some reason, I am so very suddenly surprised to realise how completely these books have made me who I am, that I feel compelled to relate it to anyone who cares to hear it.
In any case I shall write a little review and discussion of each book over the next few days (or weeks--or months) so that it will form a little thread on my blog for anyone who cares to read and comment.
They are, in more or less chronological order, "The Princess and the Goblin," by George MacDonald, "Shakespeare's Sonnets," "John Keats, Lyric Poems," Wendy Shalit's "A Return to Modesty," Connie Willis' "To Say Nothing of the Dog" CS Lewis' "The Four Loves" and "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon.
It is very odd collection of books. The first, naturally, was a children's fantasy written by a Victorian Scotsman. The next two were the works of two poets, each important in different ways. The next a treatise advocating sexual modesty. Then a comical-historical Science Fiction novel followed by a popular discussion of Christian love. And finally, bizarrely, a cookbook.
I hope my little discussions about each will be vaguely interesting.