Lee Siegel explores the practical usefulness of literature: http://nyr.kr/1hjyUit
“Fiction’s lack of practical usefulness is what gives it its special freedom. When Auden wrote that ‘poetry makes nothing happen,’ he wasn’t complaining; he was exulting. Fiction might make people more empathetic—though I’m willing to bet that the people who respond most intensely to fiction possess a higher degree of empathy to begin with. But what it does best is to do nothing particular or specialized or easily formulable at all.”
Illustration by Matthew Hollister.