View Poll Results: Stephen King:

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  • Trash

    14 27.45%
  • Literature

    24 47.06%
  • Who cares?

    13 25.49%
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Thread: Stephen King: Trash, or Literature?

  1. #466
    Pièce de Résistance Scheherazade's Avatar
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    W a r n i n g

    Please do not personalise your arguments.

    Such posts will lead to thread closure as well as earning those involved infraction points.

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  2. #467
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    Excellent quote by Twain and I also agree with Drkshadow03.

  3. #468
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ragnar Freund View Post
    So, Asimov wrote about physics, but he was not a physicist. Bloom writes about literature, but he is not a poet or fiction writer. Should we look to Asimov to determine who great physicists were? Should we look to Bloom to determine who great poets and novelists were? Why or why not in each case?
    Bloom is a Professor of Literature at one the world's leading universities, and one of the world's most admired critics. Even so, he's only one of many who should be taken into consideration - along with many critics who are also considered to be great fiction writers.

    Bloom has written fiction, but the book didn't do too well! Who knows, it could be considered a great novel a hundred years from now.

    Bloom might best be compared to a physicist like Oppenheimer - someone heavily involved with physics, doing 'reasonable' creative work, but better at teaching, at having a broad overview of the field, at being a great gatekeeper. If you argue Oppenhimer's work on black holes was seminal, then Dennis Sciama is perhaps a better example...

    Asimov had a great deal to do with pointing out great physics and physicists to me in my youth, but as a student of physics I would also have looked to people like Feynman, Oppenheimer, and Einstein as having the most to say about who the great physicists are. Surely in any field you have to look to the experts, the real experts, as to what is best in that field. Who else is there?

    Of course you have to think for yourself! But shouldn't you, mostly, be guided by experts?

    Bloom does write for mass appeal, but do did Feynman. They are both cases of leading experts extending their reach to help 'the mass' appreciate their subjects. Some hiring and promotion decisions in some universities are certainly influenced by political and ideological considerations, and by connections.

    The consensus I describe reflects a consensus between leading writers, critics, journalists, and academics extending beyond the highly political landscape of modern academia. That's why I say - nothing can be determined for a hundred year at least.

    The political landscape, trendy journalism, trendy award givers: all of these conspire to raise authors to an acclaim they do not deserve. Journalists praise their writer friends, academics praise the guy they went to school with... You need time... a lot of it... to get away from all that garbage.

    That's a good quote from Twain, but it's more an argument for a 'proper' consensus, rather than against looking at consensus as always wrong. There is a consensus that Twain is a great writer - that looks like a proper consensus...

    Quote Originally Posted by Drkshadow03 View Post
    You're making stuff up again.

    Stephen King has won and been nominated for lots of awards.

    And basically only Bloom seems to dislike King. Hardly a jury of critics.
    These are not *literary* awards. They are mostly genre award. Others are very specific and reflect some kind of mass appeal which take insufficient account of absolute literary value:

    "The Alex Awards are given to 10 adult books that are appealing to young adults." Should great literature be determined by what appeals to the average teenager?

    "Canadian Booksellers Association Awards" - booksellers like authors who make them loadsa money.

    To just start the race for being considered as literature, surely King needs be winning things like the Booker, Orange, Pulitzer, and Nobel prizes.

    This could be interesting this Friday, to those who can get BBC2 at 11pm GMT:

    "In this Book Review Show, Kirsty Wark is joined by Germaine Greer, John Carey and Susan Hitch to discuss the latest novel from Umberto Eco, a previously unpublished work by Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Stephen King's latest sci-fi blockbuster. Kirsty also travels to New York to meet author Joan Didion."

    That looks like a good jury of critics, and some serious competition for King! John Carey is generally highly supportive of literature that has mass appeal. So if any serious critic is likely to admire King, then it's him - note, though, he doesn't include King in his excellent book, "Pure Pleasure -a Guide to the 20th Century's Most Enjoyable Books".
    Last edited by mal4mac; 11-04-2011 at 07:10 AM.

  4. #469
    gone.
    Last edited by Ragnar Freund; 12-13-2011 at 02:28 PM.

  5. #470
    Bibliophile Drkshadow03's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mal4mac View Post
    These are not *literary* awards. They are mostly genre award. Others are very specific and reflect some kind of mass appeal which take insufficient account of absolute literary value:

    "The Alex Awards are given to 10 adult books that are appealing to young adults." Should great literature be determined by what appeals to the average teenager?

    "Canadian Booksellers Association Awards" - booksellers like authors who make them loadsa money.

    To just start the race for being considered as literature, surely King needs be winning things like the Booker, Orange, Pulitzer, and Nobel prizes.

    This could be interesting this Friday, to those who can get BBC2 at 11pm GMT:

    "In this Book Review Show, Kirsty Wark is joined by Germaine Greer, John Carey and Susan Hitch to discuss the latest novel from Umberto Eco, a previously unpublished work by Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Stephen King's latest sci-fi blockbuster. Kirsty also travels to New York to meet author Joan Didion."

    That looks like a good jury of critics, and some serious competition for King! John Carey is generally highly supportive of literature that has mass appeal. So if any serious critic is likely to admire King, then it's him - note, though, he doesn't include King in his excellent book, "Pure Pleasure -a Guide to the 20th Century's Most Enjoyable Books".
    Genres awards are a type of literary award. Particularly good one is the World Fantasy, for which King has had novels and short stories nominated multiple times, but has only won twice, plus a lifetime achievement award. But even so, he had a short story that won the O Henry award, which mostly certainly is NOT a genre award.

    He also won the National Book Foundation Award, which is NOT a genre award, and is given for literary merit, in addition to service.

    He has won two major national awards and countless major genre awards. He now has multiple positive essays and dissertations written about his works by professors and graduating students from Ph. D. programs. He frequently publishes in mainstream literary magazines like The New Yorker. He was even invited to be an editor of the prestigious Best American Short Stories Anthology series.

    Ultimately, though, this is all silly criteria. The amount of awards an author has won and some short British book review show with a couple of critics won't decide anything. The real deciding factors will be whether some professors continue to teach King's work, whether his work continues to be included on school reading lists, and if he continues to be read after he's dead by the public.
    "You understand well enough what slavery is, but freedom you have never experienced, so you do not know if it tastes sweet or bitter. If you ever did come to experience it, you would advise us to fight for it not with spears only, but with axes too." - Herodotus

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  6. #471
    Alea iacta est. mortalterror's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drkshadow03 View Post
    Ultimately, though, this is all silly criteria. The amount of awards an author has won and some short British book review show with a couple of critics won't decide anything. The real deciding factors will be whether some professors continue to teach King's work, whether his work continues to be included on school reading lists, and if he continues to be read after he's dead by the public.
    I don't know if professors teaching his oeuvre will be the criteria in this case. I think he's definitely important to any survey of the horror genre, but then so is H.P. Lovecraft, Algernon Blackwood, or M.R. James and how often are they taught in higher education? When I look back on his stuff I definitely see some merit, especially in his early work. But after the seventies his creative output seems to have fallen off. I'd hold out more hope for The Shining, Salem's Lot, and The Stand becoming canonized than for some of his later more recent work.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nc7ZaZz4CoU
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  7. #472
    Bibliophile Drkshadow03's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mortalterror View Post
    I don't know if professors teaching his oeuvre will be the criteria in this case. I think he's definitely important to any survey of the horror genre, but then so is H.P. Lovecraft, Algernon Blackwood, or M.R. James and how often are they taught in higher education? When I look back on his stuff I definitely see some merit, especially in his early work. But after the seventies his creative output seems to have fallen off. I'd hold out more hope for The Shining, Salem's Lot, and The Stand becoming canonized than for some of his later more recent work.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nc7ZaZz4CoU
    True enough. I've always said his earlier work is his better work.
    "You understand well enough what slavery is, but freedom you have never experienced, so you do not know if it tastes sweet or bitter. If you ever did come to experience it, you would advise us to fight for it not with spears only, but with axes too." - Herodotus

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  8. #473

  9. #474
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ragnar Freund View Post
    ... physicists make falsifiable predictions that can be tested... But literature is not physics, and authors’ works cannot be evaluated objectively.
    I actually do approach literature by making falsifiable predictions that I test. I predict that classic, literary authors will be a better read than non-classic, non-literary authors. This prediction is born out repeatedly, for me! (Not all the time, taste in reading *is* more fickle than the Millikan oil drop experiment...)

    I do read non-classic authors - mostly modern authors with literary pretensions - sometimes King and his ilk - and my prediction is, mostly, not falsified!

    When it *is* falsified I can see that it may be for non-literary reasons - the Bible is just too old, too much of a hotch potch - I can see it might overall be great literature but I'm not prepared to read most of it - it's just too difficult.

    Joyce and Proust present similar difficulties - and the jury is still out on whether they are great literature or not (for instance, chief juror John Carey, like me, gave up half way through Proust's magnum opus, and doesn't rate Ulysses very highly...)

    Of course, I only know that this is what happens when I read. For you the opposite might apply. And I cannot say that I'm a "better reader" than you because, you are right, there are no objective criteria here.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ragnar Freund View Post
    So, you can mention that Bloom is a Yale professor all you like – it’s irrelevant in general, and it’s particularly irrelevant in literature.
    It might be irrelevant to you, but it's not irrelevant to me. And because you say there are no objective criteria for determining 'what is literature', then you cannot say that Bloom is irrelevant 'in general'.

    Quote Originally Posted by Drkshadow03 View Post
    Genres awards are a type of literary award. Particularly good one is the World Fantasy, for which King has had novels and short stories nominated multiple times, but has only won twice, plus a lifetime achievement award.
    I'm trying to find the next great read, and looking at minor genre awards hasn't helped me much in the past. Looking at these awards might help you, if so fine. But they are of no interest to me.

  10. #475
    Registered User LadyLuck's Avatar
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    I sometimes wonder at the necessity of wishing to classify writings as literature or trash. I suppose that I find a need for both in my life, so that I have very little care of which category my reading falls in.

    As for Stephen King, I picked who cares, but truthfully I think his writing can be characterized as both. He has had fantastically written stories that will go down as greats and he has some that were not as well written. Perhaps my favored writing from King is actually an article he wrote about writing Everything You Need to Know About Writing Successfully. Overall I would say that most of his work can be classified as well written. Maybe it isn't as deep as the literature one thinks of when we think of classic literature, but then we're living in a different time and I doubt we'll ever see writing like that again. Another thing to remember is that a lot of the most renowned classic literature was fairly run of the mill in their time. It has become classic as much because it happened to survive rather than because it was truly genius for the time. King has the potential to go down in history, but he also could simply fade away like the many play writes who were writing similar tales as Shakespeare.

  11. #476
    gone.
    Last edited by Ragnar Freund; 12-13-2011 at 02:28 PM.

  12. #477
    Bibliophile Drkshadow03's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mal4mac View Post
    I'm trying to find the next great read, and looking at minor genre awards hasn't helped me much in the past. Looking at these awards might help you, if so fine. But they are of no interest to me.
    Aren't we all? But this is a red herring. We weren't discussing what you have personally found useful in selecting books. We were discussing the existence or non-existence of Stephen King's literary merits.
    "You understand well enough what slavery is, but freedom you have never experienced, so you do not know if it tastes sweet or bitter. If you ever did come to experience it, you would advise us to fight for it not with spears only, but with axes too." - Herodotus

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  13. #478
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    Sirs, just so you see I actually listen from time to time.

    So, I read "Letters from Jerusalem" again. What exactly is the connection to "Salem's Lot", again?

    Because the short story is clearly Cthulu-ish, while "Salem's Lot" is,
    from what I gather, a continuation of "Dracula".

    How do those two stories blend in?

  14. #479
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    Quote Originally Posted by LadyLuck View Post
    I sometimes wonder at the necessity of wishing to classify writings as literature or trash. I suppose that I find a need for both in my life...
    Why do you feel a need for trash? This looks masochistic. Would you pay to go grubbing around in bins for leftovers if five-star Michelin snacks were on offer for the same price?

    Life's hard enough without choosing to grub for trash - you'll encounter enough trash anyway, if you want to know what trash is...

    There are many modern writers who are easy to read, and who are generally regarded as producing great literature.

    Readers I've enjoyed, learned from, have found straightforward to read, and who have won Nobel prizes since 1980 are:

    DORIS LESSING
    JOHN MAXWELL COETZEE
    V. S. NAIPAUL
    SIR WILLIAM GOLDING

    There are several others who I suspect would be equally great reads, and probably not too difficult, but I haven't read them yet. So why would I read King?

    Some classic literature was considered fairly run of the mill in its time, but the vast majority of literature that was considered run of the mill *was* run of the mill.

    Literature is not classic 'just because it happened to survive'. The dictionary definition of classic is "Judged over a period of time to be of the highest quality and outstanding of its kind."

    I have found classics, mostly, to be "of the highest quality and outstanding" amongst the things that I read.

  15. #480
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    Quote Originally Posted by mal4mac View Post
    Why do you feel a need for trash? This looks masochistic. Would you pay to go grubbing around in bins for leftovers if five-star Michelin snacks were on offer for the same price?
    If I were a 16th century gentleman, most academians of the time would have told me the exact same thing, If I confessed that I enjoyed Ovid and Virgil and the great Roman poets, just as much as I enjoyed some trashy plebian contempory plays by a certain William something...

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