Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Spillane and misogyny

From: Michael Robison (
Date: 11 Jul 2006

Jim wrote in response to an Agatha Christic comment:

And I largely agree with that assessment. But she's still read and enjoyed all over the world. More than two decades after her death, she's still one of the most successful mystery writers there is. She's talked about, studied, written about, adapted into other media. She, too, despite her stick-figure characters, stilted dialog, dated attitudes, etc, has stood the test of time.

***************** The appeal of the test of time definition for literature lies at least partly in its democratic methodology. It denies the final decision to the elitist critic. If a work is still read by many people many years after its inception, then it gets the literature tag. And the elitist critics can rail all they wish about bad style or shallow characters or unimaginative themes.

There are two conclusions, at opposite ends of a spectrum, that can be drawn from this. The first is that the elitist critic might be passing over some significant elements in works which make them resonate down through the ages. The second is that the common people are simply clueless as to what amounts to a good book. This roughly equates to the bourgeoisie regret that the unwashed masses were ever taught how to read.


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