What is literature? What can literature do? Why do we write and for whom do we write? What risks do we take when we write? These are questions that place us at the heart of the functions of literature, its power, its teleology, its addressees and the responsibility of writers. If the writer is responsible, what is he or she responsible for or in relation to?
The writer is responsible for his silence, for not saying, for being indifferent to injustices… The writer is above all responsible for his time. He is involved in it, he is committed to it. He is a man in a situation. The literature that manifests the writer in situation, the writer as a man of his time, is called engaged literature.
Engaged literature presupposes the following antonymies:
Engaged literature refuses to remain silent in the face of oppressive situations. It is a clear statement in the service of freedom.
It presupposes the following postulates:
- One writes for one’s time.
- Speech is action. Writing is action.
- To unveil is to change.
The writer is in a situation. He belongs to his time. For him, speech is action insofar as he assumes that if things get worse it is because of silence or ignorance. He supposes that if people are bad, it is because of ignorance. Speaking, unveiling brings about an awareness, a change of mentality which has the effect of changing behaviors and therefore changing situations.
By way of content the text involved starts from a precise analysis of contemporary consciousness, of the current malaise and evolves in a superlative and hyperbolic way towards the drama, towards the inevitable and catastrophic situation. The engaged text speaks at the same time of a near future and of a distant and prophetic future starting from a present situation.
The goal of engaged literature is the call to conscience, the call to reason for the avoidance of the worst. It is therefore a call to the brotherhood of beings. For this the engaged text has no public. It remains the mediator for a human transformation of beings. As Geneviève Idt underlines it, “it divides and regroups, postulates freedom and practices authority, carries the word of the public, rather than addressing it”. The committed writer speaks to his contemporaries and his writing is linked to certain political situations. Situations in which freedom is scorned. For committed writing is the writing of freedom.
The committed writer is a man without camps who calls for fraternity. He mediates between different readers. He has no audience. He has only readers whom he calls to fraternity, to humanity. He reveals the inhumanity of present situations and invites to change for solidarity between beings. The committed writer has within him the epiphany of the better world. He presents it to his readers and invites them to transcend their belonging to oppressive regimes for the common construction of a better world in which everyone will find fulfillment.
The committed writer asks in his heart of hearts the questions: why choose evil when good is there? Why choose to be cruel when one can be good? Why choose hate when there is love? Why choose to enslave and oppress when there is freedom and communion? Why choose injustice when there is justice? These questions are conveyed to the readers.
The committed writer speaks to readers with the goal of transforming hearts. He denounces, unveils, in order to refuse inhuman actions that restrict freedom and life. He commits himself in solidarity with the oppressed. His writing is a promise that says that things will not always be this way. That the oppressor will be subjected to the law that he maintains to crush. In the direction of the oppressor the committed writing shows the inevitable drama that will reverse in pain the situation he has caused and by which he is satisfied to see the suffering all around him.
The committed writer, who is also a prophet writer, understands better and feels better than anyone else the significance of the proverb that says: “He who laughs last, laughs best. Therefore, his writing consists in saying that a better world is possible and that it is within everyone’s reach. He rejects the propaganda of wickedness and oppression for a better social program. It is in this that the writer remains committed. It is in this that he is responsible. It is in this that he belongs to his time.