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An observation by Eliot in the essay caught my eye:

"It is the function of a literary review to maintain the autnomy and disinterestedness of literature, and at the same time to exhibit the relations of literature -- not to 'life,' as something contrasted to literature, but to all the other activities, which, together with literature, are the components of life."  (From The Function of a Literary Review (1923).

This stikes me as simple, brilliant and true.  But a counterpoint comes to mind: is "literature" a part of life for those who do not read it?  Which in turn raises a narrower question: does literature play any part in the life of illiterate people?  More specifically (to carve out communities with a rich oral tradition), what role, if any, does literature play in the lives of illiterate persons in socities where the large majority of persons are literate?

Is anyone aware of works considering this subject?  Any thoughts on the subject?

Tom K