Did you learn your manners from reading Victorian novels? I find this scientific study fascinating…but I’d argue that if novels like Pride and Prejudice teach us how to behave as a society, they also beg us to misbehave, or at least to deviate from a “normal” path (and thank god!).
Excerpt from a Telegraph.co.uk article (thanks, Tori!):
Researchers believe the novels act like “social glue”, providing instructions on how society should behave.
In particular they believe that the novel reinforces beliefs that maintain the community and warn against destructive influences and character traits.
The study suggests that good literature “could continually condition society so that we fight against base impulses and work in a cooperative way”, said Professor Jonathan Gottschall of Washington and Jefferson College, Pennsylvania.
I’m wonder what would happen if a similar study were conducted with contemporary novels as the subject…