RARA-AVIS: Re: "The Canon"?

From: jacquesdebierue (jacquesdebierue@yahoo.com)
Date: 28 Feb 2009

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    --- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, "Gonzalo Baeza" <gbaeza@...> wrote:

    > I agree with Mark and, like him, I don't get the anti-academic slant
    > of some posts on this list.

    Gonzalo, I don't think discussing how narrow and fossilized the canon is can be equated with an anti-academic slant.

    >Just as people complain that academics
    > tend to make sweeping generalizations about genre fiction, the idea
    > that all "literary" novels are boring, plot-less, and excessively
    > introspective is equally simplistic and, if nothing else, betrays a
    > lack of intellectual curiosity. Some of these "serious" writers might
    > get good press from book critics (very few of them, actually) but I'm
    > sure most of them feel just as marginalized as genre authors who don't
    > see their book reviewed on the N.Y. Times, make as little or even less
    > money than most genre writers, and look at the promotional budget for
    > the next James Patterson book with the same envy as mid-list genre
    > authors.
    > I'm sure this has been pointed out before but it can't be said often
    > enough.

    I am sure that a many mainstream or "just plain fiction" writers make less money than many genre writers. In fact, the bestseller list indicates that in recent years genre beats just plain vanilla overwhelmingly. However, what was being discussed, in essence, is the discrimination that genre fiction suffers in the world of teaching, which is where a lot of ideas are plantes. For example, the idea that The Maltese Falcon or The Long Goodbye are just entertainment, whereas Shakespeare is serious stuff. This is not only misleading but plainly false, since Shakespeare wrote for his public, composed of ordinary folks, and he certainly had to entertain them or they would throw vegetables and start farting and giving the bird. Harold Bloom can think that Shakespeare is an elevated thing, but this is not the case.

    Likewise, Cervantes, Lope, Calderón, Bocaccio, Rabelais, and practically anybody one cares to name wrote for the people, not for academics or for the upper crust only. Even a thinker like Michel de Montaigne expected to be read by ordinary folks, not by other philosophers.



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