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

From: Juri Nummelin (
Date: 28 Apr 2000

Anthony Dauer wrote:

> Define real literary merit and provide examples of non-masterpieces that have it as
> well as just quantified it as masterpiece.
> Juri Nummelin wrote:
> > The term 'masterpiece' doesn't usually have anything to do with the real literary
> > merit.

Maybe I was a bit hasty in my words. I meant that there are books that have been called masterpieces and they have been molded into the literary canon, but have been dropped from it. They have become obsolete. Let me think of an example.. maybe the novels on Sherwood Anderson or Erskine Caldwell. They have been called masterly and some of them have been hailed as masterpieces, but not anymore by anyone in their right mind. And this has nothing to do with their literary merit. They just fall off the scope, that's all. Or think back, into the 17th or 18th century. What were the masterpieces back then? We know nothing about those works, we only know those works that were maybe abandoned from the canon, but have stood the test of time. (That's, by the way, a definition of a classic, but not of a masterpiece. They are way different things.)


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