21st Century Literature discussion

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Book Chat > How Will Future Scholars Reflect on the Books Defining Our Era?

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message 1: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten  (kmcripn) Found this article on the HuffPo this morning: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/quora/h...

What do you think? How would you answer?


message 2: by LindaJ^ (new)

LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2318 comments Superficial article about an interesting question with just a small amount of beef! Who will be the future scholars and what tools will they use to ferret out the books that define our era? Will they focus on the books that address the historical moments of the era And what is the length of "our era"? When does it began and end? I could use a more definition! But if we are looking at the 21st Century, then isn't that what this Group is exploring -- books that might be the classics of our era? And, as the article addresses, how are the potential classics currently being identified? Who are the critics that scholars would look to? Will social media (like the ratings on Goodreads) play a role? What current authors have books on college reading lists?


message 3: by Anita (new)

Anita | 103 comments Every year when my IRL book club makes our choices, we ask this same question. What we don't do, which I hope to remember this year is ask it again after reading our choices!

Cynthia Ozick's opinion was linked in this article and I agreed with much of what she said. There seems to be a "want to feel good" attitude and a "like the characters" attitude prevalent in today's readers.

Some interesting quotes re classics:

Mark Twain, “′Classic′ - a book which people praise and don't read.”

Clifton Fadiman, "when you read a classic you do not see more in the book than you did before, you see more in you than there was before."

I definitely recommend more books that affect me as Fadiman interpreted.


message 4: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2472 comments Anita wrote: "...Clifton Fadiman, "when you read a classic you do not see more in the book than you did before, you see more in you than there was before."

I definitely recommend more books that affect me as Fadiman interpreted."


Was reading The Turner House a few minutes ago, before opening this page. Fadiman might say this, too, but without searching out his quotation, I'd like to add that I seek books that allow me to see more in my fellow mankind than I did before. I think such have the potential to be classics.

(Apologies for the use of "fellow mankind" -- somehow it just felt less stilted than any attempt at gender neutrality I could conjure just now.)


message 5: by Nicole (new)

Nicole | 10 comments This article strikes me as entirely too optimistic (gosh look at how awesome we are, surely we will go down in history as the awesomest period ever!). Also, to nitpick, statistics about book production do not necessarily tell us much about how many readers there are, especially when self-published books are a big part of the final total.

I'm not one hundred percent convinced that future literary historians, if there are any, and if they are interested in us, will accept the idea of a separate postmodern period which is decidedly separate from modernism. Both the amount of time and the signature techniques may look a lot less convincing from afar than they do to people who want very much to define their writing as new and special.

I suspect that they may also have things to say about the dominance of historical fiction as a mode for fiction, and also about our obsessive concern with identity.


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