Re: RARA-AVIS: The definition of literature

From: jacquesdebierue (
Date: 02 Nov 2007

--- In, "Kerry J. Schooley"
<gsp.schoo@...> wrote:
<<I agree with you and Jim that literature is what gets written down and read (or heard, or seen in the case of performance) but there's no point being blind to the fact that many others use it as a term to mean some work has, or should have lasting value. In that context, I think of literature is another genre, primarily appreciated by those who value highly descriptive characterization. There are exceptions to that too, I expect.>>

Yes, unfortunately that view of "literature" (or Literature) is common, though books don't come with a label that tells you whether it is or isn't Literature. The question of lasting value is slippery... and impossible to know when you read a recent book. Each generation makes its literary icons, many of whom are later thrown out by later generations. The question of lasting value is also immaterial to the reader, isn't it?

And, to be cynical, what in life has lasting value? Not to mention that memory is notoriously unreliable, more fiction than reality... which is why certain memoirs or supposedly factual accounts make for such great fiction.



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