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  1. #31
    Senior Member wildcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FMWarner View Post
    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".
    Art is of what is.

    Entertainment is of what is not.

  2. #32
    Strongly Ambivalent Ivy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FMWarner View Post
    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".
    That's all very true- and compatible with the point I'm making. I do think literature is/can be a part of the study of history/sociology. It all starts out as contemporary entertainment, but the stuff that endures over time is the stuff that offers a snapshot of a particular time/place/culture. This is separate from reading for pleasure. And like I said, I wouldn't recomment Mary Shelley or Milton for pleasure reading.
    The one who buggers a fire burns his penis
    -anonymous graffiti in the basilica at Pompeii

  3. #33
    Per Ardua Metamorphosis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wildcat View Post
    Art is of what is.

    Entertainment is of what is not.
    except art can entertain me...but that doesn't make it "what is not"
    "You will always be fond of me. I represent to you all the sins you never had the courage to commit."

    Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office
    than to serve and obey them. - David Hume

  4. #34
    Senior Member cafe's Avatar
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    I liked most of the stuff we read and usually read ahead in my lit books when we had them. Two exceptions are that I usually do not like Dickens and I hated Madame Bovary.
    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”
    ~ John Rogers

  5. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by FMWarner View Post
    I did not enjoy most assigned reading, simply because I resented that it was mandatory.
    This was me as well. I enjoy reading, but have never enjoyed being told what to read. Even in AP English, when the teacher gave a list and allowed us to pick for ourselves, I didn't like my choices being limited. I typically only enjoyed the classic literature pieces I could relate to and find relevant to my life. I preferred reading works like Death be not Proud by John Gunther, Animal Farm and 1984 by George Orwell, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, and The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank.

    Most of the other reading I was indifferent to, though I remember detesting anything by James Joyce with a fervent passion.

  6. #36
    Per Ardua Metamorphosis's Avatar
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    Ironically, I have never read Metamorphosis but I heard that it wasn't any good.
    "You will always be fond of me. I represent to you all the sins you never had the courage to commit."

    Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office
    than to serve and obey them. - David Hume

  7. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Metamorphosis View Post
    Ironically, I have never read Metamorphosis but I heard that it wasn't any good.
    Not to tread into a somewhat parallel conversation, but works of literature, like works of art, are always open to subjective interpretation and are appreciated in different ways by different people. Robert Frost lamented that The Road Not Taken is often mis-interpreted....but we all interpret what we experience through our own life experience prisms

  8. #38
    Per Ardua Metamorphosis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ms. M View Post
    Not to tread into a somewhat parallel conversation, but works of literature, like works of art, are always open to subjective interpretation and are appreciated in different ways by different people. Robert Frost lamented that The Road Not Taken is often mis-interpreted....but we all interpret what we experience through our own life experience prisms
    Well put.
    "You will always be fond of me. I represent to you all the sins you never had the courage to commit."

    Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office
    than to serve and obey them. - David Hume

  9. #39
    Strongly Ambivalent Ivy's Avatar
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    Since I never actually answered the OP's question:

    "Assigned reading" that I loved:

    Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
    Faulkner, As I Lay Dying
    Orwell, Animal Farm and 1984
    Burgess, A Clockwork Orange
    Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
    Twain, just about everything but especially Huckleberry Finn (there's one line that haunts me, something like "'was anyone killed?' 'no sir, just some n*****s'")
    James Joyce, Dubliners (Ulysses was impenetrable)
    Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales (yes, they did have senses of humor back then!)
    Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
    Frederick Douglass's autobiography
    Conrad, Heart of Darkness

    "Assigned reading" that I hated:

    Milton, Paradise Lost (get over yourself!)
    Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (neat ideas, bombastically executed)
    Thoreau, Walden (poser, Emerson pwns j00)
    George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss (actually I could never get into any of the big Victorian novels, although the childrens' lit and the poetry was quite nice. Someday I'll try to make it through a Dickens novel.)
    The one who buggers a fire burns his penis
    -anonymous graffiti in the basilica at Pompeii

  10. #40
    Senior Member wildcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Metamorphosis View Post
    except art can entertain me...but that doesn't make it "what is not"
    I was entertained by Bernard. He is a great artist.
    It is not entertainment though.
    New Life. The greatest piece of prosa ever written.

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