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Thread: Is literature dead?

  1. #1
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    Question Is literature dead?

    Back in the 19th century and earlier even commercial literature (Charles Dickens, Matthew Lewis) was good stuff. I believe this can be attributed to the fact that literacy was low in the less educated classes. As more and more became literate, literature dumbed was dumbed down; and look at it today: The only new books on the shelves are Stephen King, Danielle Steele, Jeffrey Deaver garbage. Every now and then there's some book like The Corrections that passes itself off as real literature, when it's actually just REALLY REALLY BAD wannabe-literary fiction that recycles cliches from films blatantly.

    I may sound like an elitist, but it would be silly to say that the lower classes have the same opportunities to understand and appreciate literature given that they have less education and less time to read.

    Sure there are still great writers like Russell Banks and Salman Rushdie but very few.

  2. #2
    Ever Benevolent and Wise
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    No I don't think literature is dead, but I think classic literature is underappreciated in contemporary society. All the GenXer's who read Douglas Coupland and Naomi Campbell's et al works feel the siren call for their generational angst, and in context it makes sense, our values have changed, people are more externally motivated now than they ever were.

    I agree with your analysis though that the shelves are bogged down with pap these days. Hence why I only frequent used bookstores these days.

  3. #3
    L'artiste est morte crisaor's Avatar
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    Originally posted by den
    No I don't think literature is dead, but I think classic literature is underappreciated in contemporary society.
    Ditto.
    Ningún hombre llega a ser lo que es por lo que escribe, sino por lo que lee.
    - Jorge Luis Borges

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    I completely agree that literature is underappreciated in today's society, but don't blame the lower classes! Danielle Steele can be baught as cheaply as Dante. I have met far more wealthy, far less educated people. And what's your definition of lower class anyway? Where do you draw the line?
    If of thy mortal goods thou art bereft, and of thy slender store two loaves alone to thee are left, sell one, and with the dole buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.

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    Originally posted by piquant
    I completely agree that literature is underappreciated in today's society, but don't blame the lower classes! Danielle Steele can be baught as cheaply as Dante. I have met far more wealthy, far less educated people. And what's your definition of lower class anyway? Where do you draw the line?
    It's not directly about money; it's how the poorer people are the less education and free time they have. Appreciation of literature varies directly with those two factors and that's undeniable.

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    in the morden society, why people (not only lower class ) should spend dull hours in the same dark or complicated poem, novel? yes, it's not a good question, i admit, but it's a question which could not be ignored. does reading literture benefit human life?
    if it truely benefits our life, how many people will have this benefit of literture?

  7. #7
    The Yodfather Stanislaw's Avatar
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    People are constantly told that classic, or good literature is boring and for nerds, it is much better to read 600+ pages of gory thriller. I think that corperate buisness has ruined the world of literature. It is easy to produce gory thriller, inteligent literature on the other hand is hard to find. I wouldn't blame lower classes. I would blame the money hungry upper class.

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    "Faith is, at one and the same time, absolutely necessary and altogether impossible"

  8. #8
    The novel will never die because it is pure imagination - the modern world has many more distractions but ultimately the same ennui as earlier epochs.

    People will always read jejune literature as surely as they will watch bad films or listen to crap music.

    Panem et circenses.....
    Last edited by Dick Diver; 12-07-2003 at 10:28 AM.

  9. #9
    L'artiste est morte crisaor's Avatar
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    Originally posted by stavrokin
    Does reading literature benefit human life?
    Of course it does. Isn't that why we're here?
    Ningún hombre llega a ser lo que es por lo que escribe, sino por lo que lee.
    - Jorge Luis Borges

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    Yes, to those here, you do perceive the value in literature. You can be intoxicated with literature and heal the pain of reality. However, how many people could cure their ennui, ignorence, and hatred through medicine of literature?

    on the other hand, if you and me, and all of the people who love literature, whose fascination could be remained for ever and inherited by the proper groups, seem to be irrational to blame others containing the money hungry upper class or lower classes.

    it's conceited manner sometimes behind Literary sentiment.
    Nothing will die as long as you keep going on.
    But it is more important not to give up or blame others even if all of the rest is crazy for crap music .

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    I see your point, that lower-class people may be poorly educated, and have less time to read, but I question how it is these people who are responsible for the decline in the appreciation of classic literature. If anything, I blame the complacent middle class, who can easily afford good literature, and are relatively well-educated, but prefer to read crap. Someone who cannot afford to pay rent, or buy food, is most likely not buying books at all , so how they can be the source of the problem is confusing to me.

    It is a question of supply and demand, and the middle class is demanding low quality books, the lower-class isn't demanding any at all, and as I know nothing if the upper-class I cannot say what they are demanding (although I have a sneaking suspicion that they read much the same books as the middle class).

    The middle class is the largest class, and can we really be suprised that writers and publishers are willing to provide them with what they want?
    If of thy mortal goods thou art bereft, and of thy slender store two loaves alone to thee are left, sell one, and with the dole buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.

  12. #12
    Too many generalizations here. You know I'm a middle-class American and so are my friends, yet we all have the same disdain for tasteless literature. It goes without saying, you have to take the individual into account, not just class statistics.

    On another note I think reading is too often confused with life experience. Classic literature is great and all, but at some point you need to get out see what is going on in the world around you. Personally, I've seen a lot of people who live their lives as if they're characters in some overly-dramatized novel. It's worse than watching Keanu Reeves try to act out a love scene. Literature is just escapist entertainment, another profound way to kill time. Most writers (good ones, anyway) are just people who can clearly observe what is going on around them, their senses deranged by harmony. Most writers watch TV, some even read comic books (Thomas Pynchon and Kurt Vonnegut, to name a few).

    Literature is not a reason for living, life is. Now hurry up before you die.

  13. #13
    L'artiste est morte crisaor's Avatar
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    Settled. It's not THE reason clearly, but why don't you consider it to be one of the reasons? I can hardly picture my life (or anybody else's in a situation similar to mine) without literature (or music, or movies, etc.).
    Ningún hombre llega a ser lo que es por lo que escribe, sino por lo que lee.
    - Jorge Luis Borges

  14. #14
    Right in the happy button IWilKikU's Avatar
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    From just listening to this conversation, it sounds like what is being said is that every novel written before about 1950 is genious, and every novel written since is complete rubbish. Thats rediculous. While I wasn't alive in the victorian era, I'm pretty sure that there were novelists other than Hardy, Dickens, Austin, and Bronte. The greats are the ones that are remembered. We have the luxury of time on our side. Over the last 100+ years people have sorted through literature and decided which novels are good and which are bad. But anything a victorian reader picked up was not going to be brilliant. Now that the middle and even lower classes are educated there are alot more writers than there were. Not everything is crap. 80 years later people arn't going to remember the names of the harlaquin romance novel writers. They will remember the greats of our era. Our problem is we are unwilling to sift through the crap thats being published to find these jems. I read comercial fiction and I have read some absolutely pathetic novels. But at the same time, I have read some great Authors who deal with universal themes. Authors that delve into philosophy, Authors that still publish nonfiction, Authors who read and respect literature. They do exist. Its just a matter of getting off your lazy asses and trying to find them.
    ...Also baby duck hat would be good for parties.

  15. #15
    The Yodfather Stanislaw's Avatar
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    It is truly hard to find a good book lately, everynow and then one comes by, but it takes a lot of work to find one.

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    Stanislaw Lem
    1921 - 2006, Rest In Peace.
    "Faith is, at one and the same time, absolutely necessary and altogether impossible"

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