The history of humanity may be imagined as a long continuous way that unites the present, past, and future. It is impossible for any person to be successful and harmonious if he/she lives for the moment if the only present state of things is interesting for him. We should always search for necessary lessons from the past experience, it can be not only our personal experience, but it will also be better if we resort to the collective experience of humanity to find a good piece of advice, which will be applicable to the contemporary situation. The world of imaginative literature may be considered a real treasury of the past experience because the works of imaginative literature may be easily considered primary sources of information as they reflect the state of society in the past through the artistic minds of the writers. A very important choice that every person should make despite the historical epoch he lives in is the choice of occupation. Work is very important in the life of every person, as it provides our living, communication with other people, and serves as the source of positive emotions as well. Thus, when a person has to face the choice of occupation, he/she may resort to famous literary works in order to find information about the demand for occupations in the course of history, the reasons why people choose the jobs, the consequences of their choice, and the emotions they get.
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“The Bedford Anthology of World Literature” may be considered a perfect source for the present work because the anthology is the kaleidoscope of the brightest extracts from the most prominent and authoritative literary works of the most outstanding writers of the world. It seems quite reasonable to resort to such literary works as the Holy Bible, The Thousand and One Nights, Shakespeare’s beautiful and thoughtful sonnets, Castiglione’s works, etc. The study of several literary epochs will show the changes that occurred in professional spheres over the course of time.
The first volume of the anthology of literature presents the excerpts from ancient texts, such as, for instance, Hebrew Scriptures. Though the information that is presented here does not refer to occupations people take directly, the work may be helpful for the creation of motivation in work. The Holy Scriptures can be used as the basis of human existence and the source of all types of ethics, professional ethics included. The Scripture says: “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence” (Genesis 145). This quotation shows that violence is the eternal problem of humanity; it exists as long as a human being exists. The indirect conclusion may be still drawn from it: if violence is the everlasting problem of humanity, the activity of people should be directed at the eradication of evil and violence. It means that special attention should be paid to those professions that struggle against violence: policeman, soldier, etc. Besides, the chapter also teaches the readers that a carpenter can save the world. On the whole, the Holy Bible seldom suggests direct advice; it should be read thoroughly and thoughtfully.
As for the second volume of the anthology, here the legendary “The Thousand and One Night” has claimed our attention. In contrast to the excerpts from Scripture, it makes emphasis on a concrete profession, the profession of a merchant. The book suggests two tales; each of them has a merchant as a protagonist. The tale “The Story of the Merchant and the Demon” describes the man as “a prosperous merchant who had abundant wealth and investments and commitments in every country” (Haddawy 438). The tales describe the prosperity of the social layer of merchants who had many slaves and women due to their riches. It can be understood that trade was very developed at the time of the creation of the tales and it was very profitable to be a merchant.
It is necessary to mention one more literary work that comes from the third volume of the anthology and may be of great interest, “The Book of the Courtier” by Baldesar Castiglione. The writer offers a description of the situation that was characteristic of the period of the Renaissance. However, the ideas about the way how “to win the name of good Courtier” may be topical nowadays as well (Castiglione 173). In fact, the image of a good Courtier is the image of a good diplomat, the profession that enjoys great popularity and respect today. As the author stresses the necessity of good morals, ethics, and natural abilities for a good courtier, it may be considered a guide for all people who work in the public sphere nowadays.
Drawing a conclusion, it may be stated that the complex analysis of literary works from the anthology has demonstrated its usefulness. The analysis of the information that tackles professions or qualities needed to become a good specialist proves that the ideas of the authors of the past may be still topical nowadays. The literary works can give information about different sides of human professional activity, but their interpretation should not be isolated, each work can inform the reader about a different side of the subject, for instance, demand for certain professions, necessary qualities to become a good professional, etc.
“Genesis 6-6: 14, The Flood.” The Bradford Anthology of World Literature. Book 1. Ed. Paul Davis et al. NY: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2004, 145-148.
“The Thousand and One Night.” Trans. Hassain Haddawy. The Bradford Anthology of World Literature. Book 2. Ed. Paul Davis et al. NY: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2004, 435-440.
Castiglione, Baldesar. “The Book of the Courtier.” The Bradford Anthology of World Literature. Book 3. Ed. Paul Davis et al. NY: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2004, 170-174.