... I entirely agree with what Chad Post says in Entertainment Weekly vs. Oprah at Words Without Borders:
Great literature isn’t meant to heal. Great literature doesn’t change your life, or make you a better person, or send a message. Great literature is beautiful. It’s a work of art, which is the point. If you’re looking for something else, something to fix your life, check out Are You Fired Up?
If great literature is beautiful it may well change your life -- because great beauty can move you to the depths of your being. Why place limits on the effect beauty may have. I have just finished reading -- and writing about -- Anthony Briggs's new translation of War and Peace. I found it profoundly affecting. It made me look at the world and life differently. I don't think many will deny that War and Peace is an example of great literature. But what does it mean to call it beautiful? Throughout the book Tolstoy is clearly trying to get across to his readers something besides aesthetic contemplation. He is very much concerned about how human beings live their lives. And he makes the problems and passions of living palpable. To dismiss all that, it seems to me, is to trivialize the book. Is beauty nothing more than a harmonious arrangement of carefully selected details? Or does it too have a moral dimension? I am the person I am to a large extent because of the books I have read.