(ETA: As Chari says in the comment box, some of the letters can be risque, so use discretion in sharing with your kids)
Today my longtime interests in Catholic author Flannery O'Connor and the pitfalls of literary analysis come together in a letter to O'Connor from a college English class about her short story A Good Man is Hard to Find, and her reply.
Read: I am in a state of shock.
If you have read and been puzzled or distressed by A Good Man is Hard to Find, Flannery's letter provides a few hints on her intentions, and on her view of what literature in general is about. I especially like this bit:
The meaning of a story should go on expanding for the reader the more he thinks about it, but meaning cannot be captured in an interpretation.
If teachers are in the habit of approaching a story as if it were a research problem for which any answer is believable so long as it is not obvious, then I think students will never learn to enjoy fiction.
Too much interpretation is certainly worse than too little, and where feeling for a story is absent, theory will not supply it.