Re: RARA-AVIS: European valuations of genre fiction

From: Marc Seals (
Date: 31 Jan 2004

> are there really no distinctions made between genre fiction and literary
fiction in Europe?

I did a master's in Anglo-American Literature at University College London in 1996-96, and I did notice that distinctions between genre fiction and
"serious" fiction were far more ignored. In fact, that is how I found out about Raymond Chandler. My professors, when discussing great American authors of the first half of the 20th century, would often list such notables as Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Steinbeck, and Chandler. I finally protested, "But didn't this Chandler just write detective fiction?" My prof (Dr. Michael Mason, I believe) wisely snapped back, "Yes, but have you READ any of Chandler? If not, then how dare you presume to judge his writing? If it's GOOD, then who cares if it's also a mystery novel?" Well, I realized my arrogance and read _Lady in the Lake_ and was blown away.

Check the reviewers from Chandler's lifetime and the same patterns hold; American reviewers considered him one of the top mystery writers (but still a mere mystery writer), while British reviewers tended to take him seriously as a writer.

By the way, I turned in the first two chapters of my doctoral dissertation yesterday... on Chandler.

~Marc Seals

# Plain ASCII text only, please.  Anything else won't show up.
# To unsubscribe from the regular list, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to
#  This will not work for the digest version.
# The web pages for the list are at .

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 31 Jan 2004 EST