Re: RARA-AVIS: Public Acclain & "Masterpeices"/Street 8

From: Juri Nummelin (
Date: 27 Apr 2000

Anthony Dauer wrote:

> That is critical theory.
> > Keith Alan Deutsch wrote:
> > > I couldn't disagree more vigorously with Anthony Dauer's equation that a
> > > "masterpeice" must have critical acclaim. It is unsound as logic, and as
> > > critical theory.

The term 'masterpiece' doesn't usually have anything to do with the real literary merit. If something is considered a masterpiece, it just means that the literary paradigms are such that some work of literature can be taken in the literary canon. If Melville's "Moby Dick" was considered overwritten and strange at the time of its publishing, it was because it couldn't fit into the literary canon of the time.

How the canons change, that's a different question and too long one to be considered here. I haven't seen that any hardboiled piece of literature, be it Chandler or Richard Stark, has been taken into the literary canon. They are still popular literature and not masterpieces. Albert Camus and "Outsider" are maybe the closest thing to be hardboiled (or at least influenced by it) and masterpiece at the same time. But if we say that "Farewell My Lovely" is a masterpiece, we just happen to have a different literary canon which necessarily doesn't include Homer's Iliad or Ezra Pound's Cantos (which, I think, are masterpieces).


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