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The Power—and Necessity—of Reading Dangerously

Authors are not infallible. Each great writer is the child of her or his age, certainly. But the miraculous aspect of great books is their ability to both reflect and transcend the prejudices of the author as well as their time and place. It is this quality that allows a young woman in twentieth-century Iran to read a Greek man named Aeschylus, who lived thousands of years ago, and to empathize with him. Reading does not necessarily lead to direct political action, but it fosters a mindset that questions and doubts; that is not content with the establishment or the established. Fiction arouses our curiosity, and it is this curiosity, this restlessness, this desire to know that makes both writing and reading so dangerous. Read more

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