Writing and Righting
A bold and accessible argument for the moral and political value of literature in rightless times.
The obvious humanity of books would seem to make literature and human rights natural allies. But what is the real connection between literature and human rights? In this short polemical book, Lyndsey Stonebridge shows how the history of human rights owes much to the creative imagining of writers. Yet, she argues, it is not enough to claim that literature is the empathetic wing of the human rights movement. At a time when human rights are so blatantly under attack, the writers we need how are
the political truthtellers, the bold callers out of easy sympathy and comfortable platitudes.
This slim but comprehensively researched, rigorously argued volume tackles human rights, literature, moralities, philosophy, aesthetics as well as our discourses about these in a complex, nuanced and yet completely accessible way. It makes for a challenging, thought-provoking, illuminating, and at times discomfiting read. This volume -to borrow from Stonebridge herself -is a must read for lawyers and philosophers, ideologues and academics, to thinkers, writers, teachers, readers, artists, activists, survivors and indeed each one of us who has ever lost themselves to a story that may be our own or entirely of another. * Sunny Singh, Professor of Creative Writing & Inclusion in the Arts, London Metropolitan University * Magnificenta journey across our times, told with eloquence and depth, ideas and observations abound, opening vistas aplenty * Philippe Sands, author of East West Street * Pithy and powerful, this book plumbs the crucial questions of our times. If its focus is on what literature can be and do, its preoccupation is with the ethics and politics of writing in a world where liberal individualism and the pursuit of rights has tipped us into a malign logic of totalitarianism. Stripped of citizenship, millions are stripped of the right to be heard. Yet words can make injustice visible, sometimes in their intensity, even take on performative power. Stonebridge's literary ammunition comes from both history and the present, from Virginia Woolf to Kamila Shamsie, from Freud and Sartre to writers like Yousif Qasmiyeh in a refugee camp, while Hannah Arendt's philosophical force underpins her arguments. This is a passionate book, quick to read, but with a slow burn. * Lisa Appignanesi, author of Everyday Madness: On Grief, Anger, Loss and Love *
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