community · LIterature · Poetry

The Nearest Thing To Life

Yesterday I listened to a programme called ‘One to One’ on BBC Radio 4. It made me very thankful for the BBC and for the variety of programming that we have access to. The programme was presented by Peter Bazalgette, a BBC executive who has a concern for increasing our understanding of empathy.

In a short 15 minute interview with Jane Davis, founder of ‘The Reader’ magazine they explore the way that reading aloud in groups can help us to understand ourselves better and to have a deeper empathy with the experience of others. Jane Davis is also the founder of a programme where small groups meet together to read aloud – Shared Reading

She describes in often moving ways how these groups not only help those with limited reading ability, but can also have a much deeper impact in transforming lives. She desribes the reading groups as ‘Not like a book group, but more like a cross between a very small intimate church and a small intimate pub.’

At the end of the interview, we learn how through talking about the varied experiences and stories that are shared, Literature becomes a rich resource that can help us learn about one another other as well as ourselves. Novelist George Eliot wrote: “The greatest benefit we owe the artist, whether painter, poet, novelist is the extension of our sympathy. Art is the nearest thing to life, and is a way of amplifying experience and extending our contact with our fellow men beyond the bounds of our personal lot.”

Jane David responds – “Yes, humans are profoundly social. We want to be together and we need to be together, yet we are burdened by individuality and that’s mainly how we experience ourselves. Literature – poems, plays, stories is a marvellous way of reaching out to others.

It’s a quick listen – do give it a try using the link at the top.

Grace and Peace.

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