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Thread: Which COUNTRY has produced the greatest literature?

  1. #241
    Registered User Brasil's Avatar
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    Which country has produced the greatest literature?

    The latin culture is very rich in traditional forms of poems (lyric and epic) and dramatic texts (tragedie, comedy, parody) as well.
    The spanish, italian and portuguese literatures are rich in greek-latin inheritance.
    That is intrinsic in the language and inside the cultures of Italy, Spain, France, Portugal, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile...
    Francesco Petrarca (who developped the sonnet form) is just one example.

    For the complete version of the text:
    http://www.online-literature.com/for...t=34862&page=3

    For everyone in São Paulo or who goes to São Paulo:
    Visit the Portuguese Language Museum, at the Luz Station.
    Know more:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Museum_...guese_Language
    (in english)

    Vitória-ES, Brasil

  2. #242
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBI View Post
    The Hippie movement came after him, and only semi-hit. Compare that to Virgil's status amongst the romans, or the Homeric conception of Arete, or the religious nature of the Comedia, or even the pagan idealism of Beowulf. All those books capture their time periods beliefs and desires. Tolkien was semi-misinterpreted by a small number, and accepted (not nearly as well as many of his contemporaries keep in mind). The fact that the hippie movement that took him on was in the US and not England essentially proves this. It was coincidental that his ludditism corresponded with anti-war Marxist beliefs. If you examine other angles, he clearly is quite conservative, and even goes against many ideals of the Hippies who accepted him, especially in regard to his pro-aristocratic nature.
    The hippie movement came one decade after him, they are exactly the generation that read the LoTR. The Homeric texts are mostly than likely "writen" with decades of difference and same the books of the Comedia, you can not safely argue that any effect of the book was in less than 10 years.
    Plus, comparing the influece or status is silly - All those guys were more important than Tolkien and Eneid, Iliad, Odissey are all superior to anything Tolkien wrote. But that is a matter of quality and not style.
    The hippie movement in america took him? Great, because the hippie movement is American. Meanwhile, Tolkien was just the most popular author of his homeland? Mis-interpreted is a bit of a joke - That is like saying everyone interpreted Dante correctly. I doubt so.

    It was coincidental that his ludditism corresponded with anti-war Marxist beliefs.
    So, are you saying that aspects of Lord of the Rings represented vallues of his period. Good.
    Anyways, Goethe was accepted as part of the german nationalistic movement although he was not exactly that, Voltaire was wrongly taken as democratic by the revolutionary. Tolkien was conservative (I would say most of the Epics and myths are) in England? When the world was a rather conservative ? Churchill and all?
    The basic thing is your deffinition of Epic is not usefull at all. Kafka never wrote an epic, neither Jorge Luis Borges, neither Shakespeare and they "or adventure, but rather that they contain the image of what was idealized, and thought excellent by the population of its region in its time period." (In Kafka case the anti-epic, because The "Ire" of Achilles was not what was considered excellent by the greek mindset) but imagine Kipling. Or Anatole France. And there goes, several styles of literature do such thing and you need to add the narrative about an hero or occurance that deals with what you said.
    Anyways, I think you are being slighty exagerated about Tolkien (tolkien fanboyism may be annoying, as it is trying to bring Joyce Down to defend him) because Tolkien themes are kind of universal (friendship, companionship, pacifism during the world wars) and he was of course creating a epic story for his fictional world (which was a mirror of what he saw the past of england), which could be the solution for epic when the genre was basically dead except in exagerated hollywood productions.

    Tolkien didn't invented the genre fantasy, the fictional fantasy universe, the heroes basic story, the german/celtic re-telling of myths nothing of that is often labeled to him but then most of the "creators of moderm genres" (Poe, Verne, etc) didn't created them at all.
    Last edited by JCamilo; 05-14-2008 at 01:32 PM.

  3. #243
    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    That isn't the argument, and you know it. None of the authors you mentioned have written epics. Epics by definition need to represent societal values, The Lord of the Rings does not. It is simply a novel liked by a generation by accident. Nothing more. There is no epic about it, besides its laborious length. True epics have not been around since Milton (I would argue since before that, but Milton is generally considered the last true Western epic), and the Lord of the Rings doesn't break the trend. Even Wordsworth's Prelude isn't considered to be a true epic, and it was far more significant than the Lord of the Rings. You do not know what epic is, if you believe the rings are an epic. length isn't the only thing in the equation. Scope isn't the only thing, and adventure isn't the only thing.

    Tolkien brought nothing beyond a center ground to fantasy literature. Lord Dunsany had already written a removed world romance, the Germanic north had already written most of Tolkien before he even put his pen down. His style is borrowed. His characters are regarded by most serious readers as flat. He may have created something interesting, but he clearly is not a major author. He is merely a cultural phenomenon which has survived by being raised on a cultural pedestal by the inhabitants of many a parents' basement. The ring is almost the same as Star Trek, or Star Wars, except that it evolved from a book, and not a T.V. show. That is the only difference.
    Last edited by JBI; 05-14-2008 at 02:17 PM.

  4. #244
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBI View Post
    That isn't the argument, and you know it. None of the authors you mentioned have written epics.
    And that is the root of the argument, altough they have no writen epics they wrote books that would suit your definition of epic. And even, are you going to say that Balzac novels didn't represent societal values.
    The epics are not just what you define as epic, you must include all the definition that was presented here.

    Epics by definition need to represent societal values, The Lord of the Rings does not.
    As I said several non-epics do present societal values. And it is arguable that LoTR does not apresent any societal value.

    It is simply a novel liked by a generation by accident. Nothing more.
    Accident have nothing to do with that. Even Dan Brown have a reason to be popular.


    There is no epic about it, besides its laborious length. True epics have not been around since Milton (I would argue since before that, but Milton is generally considered the last true Western epic), and the Lord of the Rings doesn't break the trend.
    Actually, Gonçalves Dias wrote I-Juca Pirama in the XIX century and this is regarded as an epic. Baudelaire classificated Victor Hugo Les Miserables as an epic (because of the Social scope of his work), Anthony Burgess classificated Ulisses as an epic... I would agree that true epics are in poetic form and not prose.

    Even Wordsworth's Prelude isn't considered to be a true epic, and it was far more significant than the Lord of the Rings.
    I do not understand it at all. I am not arguing the significance of Tolkien while compared to names like Wordsworth. But you talk as if only epic literature have importance.

    You do not know what epic is, if you believe the rings are an epic. length isn't the only thing in the equation. Scope isn't the only thing, and adventure isn't the only thing.
    Agree it is not the only thing but you are falling to accept that Tolkien literature was relevant for the society he lived in and dealt with themes that were dear in the after-wars. Anways, if W.H.Auden call it an epic I accept I do not know what an epic is.

    Tolkien brought nothing beyond a center ground to fantasy literature. Lord Dunsany had already written a removed world romance, the Germanic north had already written most of Tolkien before he even put his pen down.
    Agree, but that is irrelevant. Borges is one of the most inovative writers of XX century and he lists Carlyle, Kafka, Macedonio Rodrigues, Chesterton, etc as people who did all that he did (and with truth) before him. It is the how it was done that matters. (I Agree, Tolkien was nowhere as great as other names but nowhere as bad to be labeled as just a copy-and-paste)

    His style is borrowed. His characters are regarded by most serious readers as flat.
    I think that is irrelevant. It is not like Sherazade, one of the most important female characters of all literature is deep and it is not like Voltaire created deep characters altough he still a great writer.

    He may have created something interesting, but he clearly is not a major author.
    Yes, he is not a major author. I would say he is in the limit where a few other authors inhabit such as Conan Doyle, Dumas, Anatole France or Lovecraft.

    He is merely a cultural phenomenon which has survived by being raised on a cultural pedestal by the inhabitants of many a parents' basement. The ring is almost the same as Star Trek, or Star Wars, except that it evolved from a book, and not a T.V. show. That is the only difference.
    Now, here is the exageration. Analyse the style of Tolkien, dense and confuse, losing his time in the geography rather the action. He is sometimes old-dated and in his book he used a few characters (Tom Bombadill for example) that are not "sympathic" at all, the excess of music in his book and some chapters (Such the last one) clearly anti-climatic ending.(Not to mention in Silmarilion, writen in such style that the listing of names and dates abound). He became popular despite writing without using the formula for a best-seller - if tolkien deliever the script of Lord of the Rings to any publishing house today they would never put it ahead. It is much more authoral and unlike the other two, hardly writen to be a marketing success. If he managed to get such fanatism , years before those two mass media sucess, you must seek in his book the reason not in the market.

  5. #245
    Registered User JhKreisler's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=cuppajoe_9;324052]I'd say the largest volume of great literature has come from the British Isles, but that might just be because I'm an anglophone.

    For consistency of great literature, it's hard to beat Russia. (Quick, name five lousy Russian authors. See?)

    Isn't that because lousy authors aren't so famous, because they're lousy...
    Let him think I am more man than I am and I will be so. - The old man and the sea , Hemingway

  6. #246
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    Cool The greatest literature, or at least the greatest writing, ....

    comes from The United States. I refer you to the American Declaration od Independence and the United States Constitution.

  7. #247
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brendan Madley View Post
    Conrad
    Conrad's native tongue was not english; he learned english in his early 20's.
    "They're just thoughts, so go ahead and speak."

    "We're just a collection of cells overrating
    themselves."

  8. #248
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    I would say that it is unfair to say that any particular country has written the best literature - maybe if one were to narrow it down a bit and say best novelists or best poets or best essayists or best playwrights, et cetera, then one might begin to be able to make a decent decision.
    "They're just thoughts, so go ahead and speak."

    "We're just a collection of cells overrating
    themselves."

  9. #249
    a seeker saturnine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mortalterror
    That really has to be taken into consideration when deciding what is and is not a classic. Does the work have merit, and can it even be read without too much difficulty? Those are possibly the two most important questions when determining artistic worth. However much scholars and writers push to have his work enshrined, the common readers will have none of him and that will be that. When a book ceases to be read by the public at large, it loses it's vitality, and ceases to be a true classic. It becomes an eccentricity of a peculiar sect, a cultish icon that has no bearing on the society at large.
    Is that not what is gradually happening with literature (& even reading) in general? The number of people who actively read, let alone read literature, have dwindled (outside of classrooms - at least in the U.S.). Therefore people who do read, especially literature, are more accurately described as "Literature Aficionados" or some such eccentricity (peculiar sect) rather than the common man/woman of society at large.

    What then of the classics? Would you say that Homer is still read by the public at large? Is this a sign that what we consider as classics no longer speak to the average 21st century person? Or are people becoming indifferent to or too distracted to care about the art & wisdom contained within literature? Perhaps I am only viewing the times in which I live & breathe, failing to see a larger pattern that has been repeated since history began? Or do they retain their vitality, regardless of the public's reading appetite, if taught in schools?

    I apologize for the late post & not adhering to the topic, but it seems this thread has covered lesser discussions.
    "I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves."
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  10. #250
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    Determining which nation has produced the best literature is difficult, because in order to do that one must have read every book, poem, essay, play, and sacred book of Greek, Hebrew, Latin, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Mongolian, Vietnamese, Malay, Thai, Hakka, Dravidian, Hindi, Bengali, Bihari, Oriya, Punjabi, Gujarati, Sindhi, Nepali, Kashmiri, Dogri, Tibetan, Mizo, Meitei, Kayah, Karen, Jingpho, Burmese, Bodo, Tamil, Hmong, Sundanese, Javanese, Cham, Tagalog, Formosan, Nicobarese, Kuy, Mon, Arabic, Khmer, Khasi, Persian, Uralic, Ainu, Uzbek, Uyghur, Tatar, Turkish, Kyrgyz, Azeri, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Zulu, Zwazi, Venda, Tsonga, Pedi, Shona, Malagasy, Sango, Kinyarwanda, Tigrinya, Somali, Swahili, Arabic, Nahuatl, Albanian, Armenian, Spanish, Portuguese, Lithuanian, Latvian, Welsh, Breton, Cornish, Gaelic, English, Manx, German, Swedish, Finnish, Danish, Dutch, Icelandic, Norwegian, Kurdish, Ossetian, Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, Czech, Slovakian, Slovenian, Aragonese, Corsican, French, Galician, Italian, Leonese, Norman, Occitan, Romanian, Sardinian, Silesian, Macedonian, Montenegrin, Serbian, Estonian, Hungarian, Basque, and several others.

    Fortunately, I have done this and know these languages inside and out. Thus, based upon my expertise, I can definitely say that the greatest literature is that written in Malagasy. Second, Silesian. Third, Italian. Fourth, Zulu. And fifth, Ukrainian.
    Be respectful to your superiors, if you have any. — Mark Twain

    We are all here on earth to help others; what on earth the others are here for, I have no idea. — W.H. Auden

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    Greatest literature? are you speaking in terms of quality or quantity? for one country can produce lesser publications containing a magnitude that can beat the literature of rest of the world, or the depth and heart-touching words of some countries cannot equal the humungous quantity produced by one place.
    Besides the greatest literature, subjectively, would be the one that appeals to us the most, to which we return again and again for our pleasure and which complies with our fancies and individual tastes. Objectively, it would be unfair to accredit one nation as the producer of 'greatest literature', for every country has a differing history that situated authors accordingly to the sociopolitical scenarios, giving them thoughts they put to words. Influences vary, so if all the authors from the all ages, were experimented to be in one same condition, then I would pick one to the greatest. Its the versatility of many cultures, languages and history that makes literature Great as a whole.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nayyarsarah View Post
    Greatest literature? are you speaking in terms of quality or quantity? for one country can produce lesser publications containing a magnitude that can beat the literature of rest of the world, or the depth and heart-touching words of some countries cannot equal the humungous quantity produced by one place.
    Besides the greatest literature, subjectively, would be the one that appeals to us the most, to which we return again and again for our pleasure and which complies with our fancies and individual tastes. Objectively, it would be unfair to accredit one nation as the producer of 'greatest literature', for every country has a differing history that situated authors accordingly to the sociopolitical scenarios, giving them thoughts they put to words. Influences vary, so if all the authors from the all ages, were experimented to be in one same condition, then I would pick one to the greatest. Its the versatility of many cultures, languages and history that makes literature Great as a whole.
    Agree. Partiality in this context cannot be but absolutely subjective and worse, merely because of ignorance.

  13. #253
    Haribol Acharya blazeofglory's Avatar
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    I do not think western literature is superior to eastern. India was a country of great literature. Take for example the Mahabharata. I am versed with both western and eastern literature. I do not find any book of literature more advanced in terms of its narrative style interweaved with philosophy. The Mahabharata is the greatest epic ever written and no creations of even Homer and Virgil can match the grandeur and splendor of the Mahabharata. The sanskrit language is indeed the mother of many languages and of course English, French and many other languages come from Sanskrit.

    “Those who seek to satisfy the mind of man by hampering it with ceremonies and music and affecting charity and devotion have lost their original nature””

    “If water derives lucidity from stillness, how much more the faculties of the mind! The mind of the sage, being in repose, becomes the mirror of the universe, the speculum of all creation.

  14. #254
    Haribol Acharya blazeofglory's Avatar
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    Of course modern literature comes from America and Europe and this is mainly due to the fact that modern civilizations is steered by European explorers. But as far as ancient literature is concerned it is indeed through India and China that just birthed much better literature.

    “Those who seek to satisfy the mind of man by hampering it with ceremonies and music and affecting charity and devotion have lost their original nature””

    “If water derives lucidity from stillness, how much more the faculties of the mind! The mind of the sage, being in repose, becomes the mirror of the universe, the speculum of all creation.

  15. #255
    Haribol Acharya blazeofglory's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nayyarsarah View Post
    Greatest literature? are you speaking in terms of quality or quantity? for one country can produce lesser publications containing a magnitude that can beat the literature of rest of the world, or the depth and heart-touching words of some countries cannot equal the humungous quantity produced by one place.
    Besides the greatest literature, subjectively, would be the one that appeals to us the most, to which we return again and again for our pleasure and which complies with our fancies and individual tastes. Objectively, it would be unfair to accredit one nation as the producer of 'greatest literature', for every country has a differing history that situated authors accordingly to the sociopolitical scenarios, giving them thoughts they put to words. Influences vary, so if all the authors from the all ages, were experimented to be in one same condition, then I would pick one to the greatest. Its the versatility of many cultures, languages and history that makes literature Great as a whole.
    I second your thought. Quantity is what matters today. Western literature is intrinsically poorer than the literature of ancient Indian literature.

    “Those who seek to satisfy the mind of man by hampering it with ceremonies and music and affecting charity and devotion have lost their original nature””

    “If water derives lucidity from stillness, how much more the faculties of the mind! The mind of the sage, being in repose, becomes the mirror of the universe, the speculum of all creation.

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