RARA-AVIS: Re: The definition of literature

From: JIM DOHERTY ( jimdohertyjr@yahoo.com)
Date: 03 Nov 2007


Re your comment below:

"No. It's a great analogy. Just as Einstein stands out as a genius, much of the work of Shakespeare stands out as literature."

No it's not, because genius isn't the point.

One could grudgingly admit that Spillane was a genius
(at least at marketing), or, slightly less grudgingly, that Hammett and Chandler were geniuses, yet still be dismissive of the kidn of writing on which they
"wasted" their talent.

In other words, one could recognize the genius of the creators and still say that what they wrote fell short of being literature.

What gives the use of the term "literature," in the exclusive sense, so much snob appeal is precisely that it doesn't matter how good the work being dismissed is, or how talented the creator is, but simply that the genre, by this exclusive definition, doesn't pass muster as "real literature."


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