Sunday, January 27, 2008

Reading Habits

The habit of reading in younger generation has completely disappeared. Doris Lessing has rightly pointed out in her Nobel acceptance speech:
“We are in a fragmenting culture, where our certainties of even a few decades ago are questioned and where it is common for young men and women, who have had years of education, to know nothing of the world, to have read nothing, knowing only some specialty or other, for instance, computers”.
Most of Younger Generation has not heard of Oscar Wilde, Guy De Maupassant., and Earnest Hemingway. Even Agatha Christie, Irving Wallace or Arthur Hailey was not known to them. Thanks to aggressive coverage Media Harry Potter is known to them.
Where we went wrong? Now a days story telling and story reading were not part of our school curriculum. In my school days there was a separate class called Moral Instruction. In that class stories from Bible, Mahabharata and Ramayana were told to us. Sometimes if we are lucky we may have a teacher who used to tell stories he has read apart from great epics. In one such class I was introduced to Jean Valjean and Necklace.
Jean Valjean is a subplot in Victor Hugo’s Les’misrebles. Jean Valjean is a convict who on his release from prison unable to find a place to stay. A priest gave him shelter for one night. But on the morning Jean Valjean decamped with a silver vase. But he was caught by the police and brought before priest for confirmation of the fact. But the priest told to the police that has given the silver vase as a gift. The story when told to us children emphasis the fact of forgiveness. Necklace is another master piece from Guy De Maupassant about a tragic-comedy that a family wasted entire life time to replace an imitation necklace.
In her acceptance speech Nobel Laureate lamented the fact of lack of books for Zimbabwean schools. Even teachers if willed to work in Zimbabwe they were not provided with books for teaching children. Zimbabwean is eager to read and learn. They are also eager to read any books that are available. Their libraries which consist of four walls and thatched roof are also devoid of books. The English is a legacy of white regime that ruled Zimbabwe before it got independence.
When I was younger when T.V. was not invaded our homes my friends used to discuss with me about the book they had read. James Hadley chase, Harold Robins and Arthur Hailey were some of the books that found favor with them.
But T.V. and Inter Net occupy the major portion of this generation. Even in my home my son who is working in a M.N.C. went straight to his computer when returned after day’s work. Plugging his ears with microphone begins to listen to the music from his data base or chat with some net friends. Even their music is personal.
Our teachers themselves are not aware of classics now days. How many of our teachers have read Anna Karenina or Crime and Punishment for that matter?
Even now I used to wonder how written words in a book excite me. Am I just one of the fortunate who took pleasure in reading? How ever much I browse internet it won’t be a substitute for books.