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Book Chat - General > Your definition of Literature.

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message 1: by Dian, Crazy Nooooob Mod! :D (new)

Dian | 440 comments Mod
Usually this term although encompasses nearly all written word is typically applied too only a certain books. So I wanted to know what do you think of as literature?

I usually only apply that term to books that either transcend the time they were written or have core values and meanings that can be applied no matter the modern age. Of course books like Jane Eyre, Little Women, To Kill a Mockingbird, Scarlet Letter are all considered literature, but can modern books ever reach that status? Sadly I dont think many books put out now a days have that long term value of their predecessors. I am really hard pressed to think of many books that have been put on over the last 20 years that will still be widely read 20 or 30 years from now. Modern literature seems to be in two groups either complete fluff(which is what i read, I will gladly admit that) which offers very little in the ways of improving ones mind or examining human characterisitcs. Or its completely boring "highly intelligent" literature that isn't really marketed to the masses. Thats just my take one things.



side note/thought: Any good book that falls in between those two always seem to end up being watered down and made into movies. Which in a ways is good cause it often leads to people to read the book, but on the other hand too many just say "well i saw the movie" so they bypass reading. Which I think is a sad statement about our culture.


message 2: by Lildreamelf (new)

Lildreamelf | 81 comments of course, i looked up the word literature on dictionary.com.

1. writings in which expression and form, in connection with ideas of permanent and universal interest, are characteristic or essential features, as poetry, novels, history, biography, and essays.

2. the entire body of writings of a specific language, period, people, etc.: the literature of England.

3. the writings dealing with a particular subject: the literature of ornithology.

4. the profession of a writer or author.

5. literary work or production.

6. any kind of printed material, as circulars, leaflets, or handbills: literature describing company products.

7. Archaic . polite learning; literary culture; appreciation of letters and books.


Within this very diverse definition, I think all books can be considered literature. A lot of the time, we study "Literature" and its usually a focus on a specific time period or specific type, i.e., Victorian Literature, Gothic Literature, Modern Literature, Travel Literature. I mean, its all LITERATURE. Now you can say, "I don't consider Harry Potter Literature," but the truth is, it is Children Fiction Literature or Sci-Fi Children Literature, if you will. But saying Anne Rice's vampire and witch novels aren't literature because they are modern works or because they don't have cultural significance is arguable. I mean, you can argue that Anne Rice's novels created an entire sub-culture for Vampire / Witch fans. You can argue that she wrote those books two decades ago and they are still wildly popular series among a certain segment of the reading population. The same can be argued for J.D. Robb (i know this is a pen name, but I can't remember her real one). She writes romance and mystery novels and is very popular writer in both categories. You can't discount it as literature because you don't like it.


message 3: by Lildreamelf (new)

Lildreamelf | 81 comments with respect to Anne Rice: Interview with a Vampire was written in 1973. Therefore, that book has actually remained popular for much longer than two decades.


message 4: by Keith (new)

Keith (oafaye) | 60 comments My definition of Literature:

A word used by pompous elitist to describe what they read. Used as a way of denouncing things they do not like, as well as the people who read such things, as inferior to them


message 5: by Jamie (JK), Houdini Mod (new)

Jamie (JK) (eimajtl) | 703 comments Mod
I think I'll adopt your definition. Kudos to you good Sir.


message 6: by Alexander (new)

Alexander (alexanderon) It's just like how we differentiate "film" from "videos." Uploading a dog vomiting on the carpet on your YouTube is not automatically a "film." Film/movies aren't just there to entertain--they're there for artistic representation and, in many cases, to educate or persuade. There are exceptions to this rule of course, but then again there are also trash romance novels and Twilight out there, no?

Literature can be applied the same way. Almost anything can be classified as literature, but the point is that there has to be some sort of rhetorical derivative. There has to be meaning behind it--it can't just be sprawled words vomited on a page. What's the difference between a scribble and a drawing? A smudge and a painting? These can all be applied the same way, but ultimately it comes down to subjective opinion whether it's "art" or it's simply baby doodle imitations.

While some people like Keith do believe that terms like "literature" are unnecessary, there's nothing wrong with retaining a level of acceptability in what is written, and what isn't.


message 7: by Nora aka Diva, The Diva Mod (new)

Nora aka Diva (DuctTapeDiva) | 391 comments Mod
Alexander wrote: "While some people like Keith do believe that terms like "literature" are unnecessary, there's nothing wrong with retaining a level of acceptability in what is written, and what isn't.
..."


Now this I agree with, have we ever agreed on anything before now? lol


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