Birmingham Salon

Talking liberty - The seductive power of literature

Saturday 25th March, 1.00 pm - 3.00 pm

Map Room, Cherry Reds, 88-92 John Bright Street, B1 1BN

Free entry but donations welcome. Donations help us to meet speaker travel costs for our two debate Salon events.

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In his Letter on Liberty, The Seductive Power of Literature, author and film-maker Phil Harrison makes the case for the importance to freedom of reading. "A book must be an axe that smashes the frozen sea inside us" Kafka wrote. Harrison sets out what happens to our awareness of language, of our desires and motivations, and to our understanding of the "other" when we read, elaborating on Kafka's metaphor with reference to a range of writers from George Eliot to JM Coetzee. 

Good writing (and reading of it) helps us break out of the constraints, pressures, and attempts to reduce what we are that is imposed upon us by the politics of right and left, Harrison argues. As sensitivity readers get to work on Roald Dahl, James Bond, and Ladybird fairytales, to what degree can this essay help us consider what is happening? 

Please join us in the Map Room from 1.00 pm.  At 1.15 pm, Rosie Pocklington, Salon regular, avid reader and member of Moseley Writers Group and Florence Cuckston Fenn, an A Level English Literature student will introduce the arguments made in this Letter on Liberty and give their response to it.  Attendees are strongly encouraged to read The Seductive Power of Literature, although the arguments in it will be summarised by Rosie. The Letters on Liberty are available at £5 for a group of three or as free PDFs.

Further reading