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  1. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    Really? So, basically, in your opinion Danielle Steele = Charles Dickens = Kurt Vonnegut = Stephen King?
    Not being able to create an order on something does not imply equality.

    What is the best tasting food? What is the best photograph? ....

    You may be able to create a partial order of some sort, but I believe value is in the eye of the beholder.

    I think War and Peace is drivel, same thing with Grapes of Wrath and Great Gatsby.

    But I liked Death of a Salesman and Fathers and Sons and My Antonia.

    I thought To Kill a Mocking Bird was not much better than the fiction I was reading on my own.

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  2. #22
    Strongly Ambivalent Ivy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    Not being able to create an order on something does not imply equality.

    What is the best tasting food? What is the best photograph? ....

    You may be able to create a partial order of some sort, but I believe value is in the eye of the beholder.

    I think War and Peace is drivel, same thing with Grapes of Wrath and Great Gatsby.

    But I liked Death of a Salesman and Fathers and Sons and My Antonia.

    I thought To Kill a Mocking Bird was not much better than the fiction I was reading on my own.
    There is a difference between valuing a piece of writing for yourself, and valuing it in the grand scheme of literature and culture. War and Peace may be drivel IYO but you can't deny that it has influenced other literature, and culture as a whole. I hated Paradise Lost with the white-hot passion of a thousand suns, but I wouldn't deny that it has been extremely influential.
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  3. #23
    Senior Member wildcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zergling View Post
    The point was more about books that people had to read in school, not classes that people took just to get to read. (As you might guess from reading the thread, people would not have read a lot of this stuff if taken to a library and let loose.)
    I disagree most vehemently.

    Who has said anything of letting loose.
    I do not let loose.

    To give a choice is not to let loose.
    I did not say I should let anyone to have a free ride.



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  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by wildcat View Post
    .....
    Just don't bother posting in the thread anymore, nothing you are saying has a point to it, or is useful in anyway except throwing criticism around.

    There is a difference between valuing a piece of writing for yourself, and valuing it in the grand scheme of literature and culture. War and Peace may be drivel IYO but you can't deny that it has influenced other literature, and culture as a whole. I hated Paradise Lost with the white-hot passion of a thousand suns, but I wouldn't deny that it has been extremely influential.
    When literature gets described, it is often described as "Greatest stories...", not "Stories that had a lot of influence in some way", which repeated over and over, creates expectations of something that many, many times aren't met.

  5. #25
    Strongly Ambivalent Ivy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zergling View Post
    When literature gets described, it is often described as "Greatest stories...", not "Stories that had a lot of influence in some way", which repeated over and over, creates expectations of something that many, many times aren't met.
    Sure. I don't dispute that at all. I was disappointed many times that I didn't enjoy reading a piece of canonized literature, but in every case (well- almost every case) I could see why it was an important piece of history and the cultural landscape. Even if it were a relic of a regrettable time, and I disagreed with every word of it, or if it were written in a bombastic and self-important style.

    Mary Shelley's writing kind of sucked in a lot of ways but there was enough interesting about the atmosphere in which it was written and her mindset and life to write a thesis on it. Still, I don't think I'd recommend Frankenstein to you unless you're interested in that big picture, and willing to do a lot of extra reading to place it in context. Read in a vacuum, it's pretty dull.
    The one who buggers a fire burns his penis
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  6. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by Metamorphosis View Post
    What makes a book a classic? Why do we read some books and not others? To me, if it is not non-fiction you cannot possibly measure the value of one book against another (excluding grammatical errors and such, obviously).
    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    Really? So, basically, in your opinion Danielle Steele = Charles Dickens = Kurt Vonnegut = Stephen King?
    I think Metamorphosis has a point. I think recognition of great literature is largely a game of identifying and giving the expected answer instead of pointing out what you truly enjoy. Let's take a hypothetical example. Pretend you have a person of average intelligence with average reading skills who is completely unfamiliar with literature and the reputations of various books. Assign him to read books by James Joyce, Stephen King, John Grisham and James Patterson. Then ask him three things:

    1. If you were told one of these was considered a classic, which one do you suspect it would be?
    2. Why do you say that?
    3. If you could take one of these books home with you today, which one would you like to have?

    I would bet my life that the majority would answer the questions like this:

    1. Joyce
    2. Because it was boring and I couldn't get through it
    3. Any of the other three

  7. #27
    Strongly Ambivalent Ivy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FMWarner View Post
    I think Metamorphosis has a point. I think recognition of great literature is largely a game of identifying and giving the expected answer instead of pointing out what you truly enjoy. Let's take a hypothetical example. Pretend you have a person of average intelligence with average reading skills who is completely unfamiliar with literature and the reputations of various books. Assign him to read books by James Joyce, Stephen King, John Grisham and James Patterson. Then ask him three things:

    1. If you were told one of these was considered a classic, which one do you suspect it would be?
    2. Why do you say that?
    3. If you could take one of these books home with you today, which one would you like to have?

    I would bet my life that the majority would answer the questions like this:

    1. Joyce
    2. Because it was boring and I couldn't get through it
    3. Any of the other three
    The point rests on the assumption that personal enjoyment is the sole goal of the study of literature. It's really not. I like plenty of contemporary literature but none of it has had a chance to show its effect on culture yet. It's like conflating history and current events.
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  8. #28
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    I have yet to really read a "classic" book that I enjoyed. If I don't like it, I take away nothing from it. I can learn about culture more easily from watching a documentary than reading about Huck Finn. I gained a true understanding of the negative aspects of communism by reading the Sword of Truth books, but that doesn't make them a classic. What exactly is it about literature that makes it "good/classic?"

    So far, the only prerequisites I see are that it must be old and boring. I notice almost no advantage of classic literature over any other fictional book, except that it is about less interesting topics.

    Edit:
    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    The point rests on the assumption that personal enjoyment is the sole goal of the study of literature. It's really not. I like plenty of contemporary literature but none of it has had a chance to show its effect on culture yet. It's like conflating history and current events.
    What other point does it have then? I'm not trying to discredit the English majors out there, but I have never gained anything useful from reading classic novels, to my knowledge. The very idea of studying fictional writing for any other purpose than writing style seems ridiculous to me.
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    than to serve and obey them. - David Hume

  9. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    The point rests on the assumption that personal enjoyment is the sole goal of the study of literature. It's really not. I like plenty of contemporary literature but none of it has had a chance to show its effect on culture yet. It's like conflating history and current events.
    Isn't it? To me, the first job of any work of art is to entertain. If a message or an understanding is imparted, then all the better. But if people don't want to watch/read/look at/listen to the work in the first place, then the message is lost. What good is a masterwork that sits in a closet?

    To my way of thinking, the things you are looking for in the study of literature are better addressed in the study of history or sociology. Remember that the literature considered "classic" today was the contemporary entertainment of its day. Shakespeare was enjoyed by the general public as a night out. That's all it was. Only history, as you point out, has bestowed on it the label "classic".

  10. #30
    Senior Member wildcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zergling View Post
    Just don't bother posting in the thread anymore, nothing you are saying has a point to it, or is useful in anyway except throwing criticism around.



    When literature gets described, it is often described as "Greatest stories...", not "Stories that had a lot of influence in some way", which repeated over and over, creates expectations of something that many, many times aren't met.
    The expectations are met.
    By the reader.

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