An open book.

June 4, 2020, by UoN School of English

Taking Refuge in Literature

As we turned inward during lockdown, we may have felt more compelled than ever to turn to books to find refuge during these trying times. We turn to devour endless pages with imaginary places of fantasy to a world buzzing with life. A reality of social life which, to us, felt fictional and so far removed from the reality of social distancing. To be tied to the bricks and cement of our homes, feeling like we’re becoming an extension of that same home ourselves. Another brick to the building (now that’s a scary thought!).

Yet we return to our ‘normal’ by turning to the ink of the page to escape our current predicament, or to better understand it. We harbour feelings of grief, loss, hopelessness, loneliness. Feelings that we find time and time again in our books. Or, none of those emotions at all. You might have felt elated at the prospect of self-reflection and the opportunity to spend much needed time with yourself. We all responded differently. But, I think us English students are quite united in one aspect: reading! Whatever it is that we are reading, it does seem to be a kind of escape, or a way to delve deeper into the emotions and problems that we face through the eyes of others. After all, with social distancing, why should we be distanced from things that tie us together? To visual art, to books, to music, to writing. Times where we need these pursuits the most. More now than ever.

But, we will have our weapons (otherwise known as ‘books’..) at the ready, eager for face-to-face contact and bobbing along our heavy heads full of already acquired knowledge during quarantine. Whether that will be going back to Notts, or emerging from your degree after graduation, you will (at least a bit, I hope..) appreciate that time, whatever the ups and downs were. But, even better than that, you have a greater sense of gratitude for things you took for granted. Gratitude when you rejoin friends and family, when you realign yourself with what life was like before the lockdown and feeling gratitude for your studies. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll be raring to go to your 9am classes, grateful to have gotten them back!

Alys Hall is a second year English student at the University of Nottingham. She has an interest in modern literature and poetry, particularly Welsh literature, and you can follow her on Instagram @alysh81.

Image credit: Studio Media
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