Monday, June 16, 2008

By Way of Introduction

Last month, I read Reginald Shepherd's essay collection Orpheus in the Bronx, a little while after having read his Fata Morgana (which I have been commenting on off and on for the past few weeks). In his brief introduction to the collection, Shepherd wonderfully captures something that people should keep in mind when they talk about the politics of literature: "I have been oppressed by many things in my life, but not by literature, which enacts possibility rather than closure."

I have been oppressed by many fewer things in my life than Reginald (I was not raised by a single mother in the Bronx, for example), but I could not agree with him more: one thing that has never oppressed me is literature. It has always freed me from whatever wanted to hem me in.

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