From this point of view, Iqbal distinguishes between two kinds of literature. The first is entertaining, uplifting and portrays beauty (in my researches, I propose the term “consensus literature” for this school, because its writers seek to unite diverse segments of their societies). When nations are strong, they respect this type of literature and when they grow weak, they start looking down upon it (See One Heart for Peace for an excerpt from Iqbal’s own writing on this subject).
The second kind of literature is depressing and portrays ugliness. Its writers claim that common people are incapable of finding attraction in “the best of what has been thought and said”. Thus these writers create dichotomy between “high literature” and “popular literature,” splitting the soul of a society between the elite and the unschooled. When nations grow weak and societies cannot hold themselves together they embrace such theories, as was the case with various European nations after 1857 (see my monograph The Beast and the Lion). For a refreshing post on this subject, check the Blog of Faraz Haider.
How old is this contention between consensus-seeking and dichotomy-making? That’s what we shall see next: Mesopotamia, the birth of literature.
Photograph is taken from the blog One Heart for Peace