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A Tremendous ThingFriendship from the "Iliad" to the Internet$
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Gregory Jusdanis

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780801452840

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801452840.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
A Tremendous Thing

Gregory Jusdanis

Cornell University Press

This introductory chapter weaves together the links between friendship and literature. Friendship engages us with people outside of our house, in relationships not underwritten by law, religion, or the state, in attachments formed through love, pleasure, and possibility. In many ways, making friends resembles the process of engaging with fiction; both ask you to project yourself into the mind and heart of another. Thus the chapter shows how this capacity for imagination and invention is what makes friendship a natural ally of literature. Literature and friendship both occupy structurally similar positions in society, each being nonessential and nonproductive human activities, squanderers of time. However, people engage with literature and make friends even though neither offers them much instrumental advantage.

Keywords:   friendship, literature, art, fiction, nonessential human activities, imagination, nonproductive relationships, noninstitutional relationships

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