Always interested in how people view the point or at least the benefit of literature and other arts.  Here is George Eliot, whose writing is a plea for humanity, as well as a masterpiece of characterization, arguing for literature to extend empathy towards our fellow ‘struggling, erring human creatures’.  See also John Sutherland’s comment on the value of literature.

‘The greatest benefit we owe to the artist, whether painter, poet, or novelist, is the extension of our sympathies … Art is the nearest thing to life; it is a mode of amplifying experience and extending our contact with our fellow-men beyond the bounds of our personal lot.’

‘The only effect I ardently long to produce by my writings, is that those who read them should be better able to imagine and to feel the pains and joys of those who differ from themselves in everything but the broad fact of being struggling erring human creatures’.

Source: George Eliot, Adam Bede (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1985 (1859)), p. 19 and letter (5 July 1859), quoted p. 39

Photo credit: Jorge Lopez at


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