Why should students read

Literary canon


What should students read? - Ulrich Greiner takes up this question in his article in the German newspaper “Die Zeit”. In our professional world, well-reading is no longer necessary, it is much more important to master English, mathematics or computer technology. Many people hold these or similar opinions. In contrast, Greiner is of the opinion that too little value is placed on literature. He calls for a new canon of literature, because literature is a place of beauty, in which dreams, fears and hopes of the people are kept. Unfortunately, there is hardly any space for literature in German lessons, even though the love for literature and language has to be cultivated there.

What should students read now? Not an easy question, because German literature is very extensive. A closed circle of masterpieces, which are regarded as binding because of their value, is needed - a literary canon.

For a long time, the literary canon had the reputation of being just a list of all the classics that nobody reads any more. In the meantime, this idea of ​​a best list has become widespread again and I also know some works that I consider indispensable for educated young people. However, every norm calls for contradiction. The literary canon is always both a guideline and a dispute.

In my opinion, the Bible is the most important work for our Christian society. It is not only the basis of our faith, in it we also find a large number of examples of how we can behave correctly in certain situations. The Ten Commandments can still be found today in our ethical understanding of values. The Bible is also a repository of numerous phrases and quotations, such as "Ahmen, I tell you, you will still be with me in paradise today".

“The Sorrows of Young Werther” by Johann Wolfgang Goethe is another work in my literary canon. The core theme of this drama is surely Werther's love for Lotte. Love changes his life, he forgets space and time and is constantly looking for evidence of their affection and cannot forget it, from which he ultimately suffers and even kills himself in the end. Other topics that Werther uses in his letters to criticize certain circumstances or to make them clear and understandable are religion, society and art. Goethe's novel caused a scandal because it recognized the right of the individual to put an end to a life that was perceived as torment. In this work of Goethe there are some features of the Sturm und Drang epoch: For example, the individual comes to the fore, one celebrates him as a power guy or genius. Self-realization is the goal. Furthermore, nature is not viewed with scientific curiosity, but experienced as a revelation from God and society and its class boundaries are criticized.

In "Nathan the Wise" the main concern of the author Gotthold Ephraim Lessing is tolerance. Without tolerance, the coexistence of the various religions is inconceivable, as can be seen in the countless religious wars that are waged. Ultimately, the drama "Nathan "The wise" as an appeal for acceptance of other manners and customs, and for a more tolerant coexistence in free thinking for all people in order to ensure a more peaceful future. The ring parable says: There is no real religion, but today's main religions are of a correct one Religion emerged that has been lost over time, so a person's religious affiliation is not decisive.

In my opinion, the fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm are also a very valuable cultural asset. The application of the fairy tale is almost inexhaustible, because the inexpressibly great treasure of the fairy tale lives in the hearts of all peoples of this earth. Fairy tale and storytelling is an ancient art. Today it is being rediscovered and appreciated again. Many children, young people and adults love the creativity-enhancing and beneficial power of fairy tales. Like dreams, fairy tales can help to find one's way in the "real" outer world and in the "soul and spirit" inner world. Some fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm are, for example, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood, Rumpelstiltskin, Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, Frog King and Frau Holle.

Hamlet by William Shakespeare is a work in which one can find numerous quotations. A ghost in the form of the previous king of Denmark tells Hamlet that he was murdered by the poison that Claudius had dripped into his ear while he was sleeping, so that Claudius became king and Hamlet's mother could marry. Hamlet, he demands, should avenge this murder. This is still a very topical issue today, as the majority of murders these days are committed out of jealousy and greed. The tragedy ends with Hamlet's last sentence: “The rest is silence.” This quote and “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark” are well-known quotes.

However, there is no literary work that appeals to me before anyone else. Each work is unique and I don't have a favorite. Each work has its advantages and disadvantages. Of course, it also depends on your state of mind whether a work appeals to you or not. A literary canon can therefore only be used to a limited extent. If you don't like a certain work at all, in my opinion there is no point in reading it just because it is part of a literary canon.

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