Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: The definition of literature

From: William Ahearn (
Date: 03 Nov 2007

--- JIM DOHERTY <> wrote:

> 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."
This is actually the real argument that has shadowed this conversation from the start. Granted, it's a tad more articulate and far better stated than the same discussion on a mystery book list yet when the gild is off the lily, it's the same old genre versus literature back-and-forth. Shakespeare in his day was genre. So was Cole Porter for that matter. Marketing may have helped their careers but it certainly didn't ensure that we would be watching and listening now. Obviously, I'm not a major fan of the so-called western canon. And there's any number of classics that I think totally suck. What I don't understand is why
-- if you read what you (and I mean that generally, not personally) yourself call genre -- you even care that pulp, hardboiled or dare I say it, noir is recognized by a strata that is almost by definition based on snobbery? You can't have it both ways. There's a resentment of not being accepted by a group that isn't respected to begin with. I really don't grasp what this discussion is really about. To get this remotely back on topic, what matters to me first is whether it's a good film and then whether it's noir. Many films can qualify as noir but if they suck, so what?


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