Is there a place for literature in a world mesmerized by money, where economic rationalism rules and getting ahead is the name of the game?
The contributors to this volume address the question from a variety of angles. Some examine particular works that demonstrate the power of literature to change the way we think and live our lives – works by Shakespeare, Hardy and Beckett; by Indian writer Arundhati Roy; and by Australian writers Christopher Brennan and Michael Dransfield.
Some look at the effects of current economic policies on universities: the stranglehold on intellectual curiosity in the arts and sciences, the decline of English departments across Australia.
Others look at the nature of literature itself. What does it mean that the characteristic response to the events of September 11, 2001 was speechlessness? Is the word itself in crisis?
The value of reading, writing and studying literature cannot be conveyed on a balance sheet. As Ralph Elliott, says, ‘In celebrating literature and ensuring its preservation and survival in an increasingly hostile environment, we are indeed battling for the human soul, the human spirit in all its manifestations.’