How does the soul survive?

Modern fiction brings out the evil in domestic lives, ordinary relations, people like you and me…Evil in Austen, as in most great fiction, lies in the inability to “see” others, hence to empathize with them… Once evil is individualized, becoming part of everyday life, the way of resisting it also becomes individual. How does the soul survive? is the essential question. And the response is: through love and imagination. Stalin emptied Russia of its soul by pouring on the old death. Mandelstam and Sinyavsky restored that soul by reciting poetry to fellow convicts and by writing in their journals. “Perhaps to remain a poet in such circumstances,” Bellow wrote, “is also to reach the heart of politics. The human feelings, human experiences, the human form and face, recover their proper place—the foreground.”

~Azar Nafisi, Reading Lolita in Tehran


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