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Genre fiction as literature? (1 Viewer)

strangedaze

Senior Member
I've noticed that a lot of folks here enjoy reading genre fiction, especially fantasy. Now, I'm presuming that there are some 'high-brow' readers out there who *might* proclaim that such fiction isn't up to snuff, quality wise, or at least most of it isn't, and that there are few genre books that might make it on that ever-loving, elitist canon, and to stimulate debate I'm posing the following question:

Do you think that books that draw heavily upon a genre, say an Eragon or an Asimov book, can be considered 'literature' (if you think such a thing exists), or some such?

I won't say where I stand on the issue, I just want to see you people tear eachother apart ;)
 

Saponification

Senior Member
Uh... some science fiction, I guess, and maybe Tolkien. But most genre fiction is pretty Hollywood. I mean sure, Hollwood sometimes does arthouse lite, but it's rarely more than bath tub deep.
 

evadri

Senior Member
It seems that most of the cannoical high brow literature is old. However, not all old works are great literature. Some works in the cannon are certainly 'genre' peices.
The classic example is Jane Austen. You could class her work as soap opera. Indeed, at the time it was written, it was considered garbage by high brow romantics etc. But now it's studied in school and is greatly beloved.
Much of Dickens work was published in periodicals as popular fiction for the middle classes. He certainly didn't consider himself to be writing 'high brow' literature.

I don't know why certain works survive the test of time to become considered as great literature. Perhaps it's the style, or the characters, or maybe they say something important about society or life. But I think it's proabably because ordinary people loved these stories enough to keep reading them and sharing them with their children, handing them down to this very day.

That's my 2 cents.
 

Pawn

Patron
Asimov was a genius. However, I consider the vast majority of fantasy authors to be essentially untalented as writers. Fantasy authorship requires its own specific skills, but it is certainly rare for me to read fantasy or sci-fi in which I admire the prose style.

To actually discuss the topic it would be necessary to define the ambiguously phrased 'literature'.
 

Kane

Senior Member
I'm envious that you've actually had time and money to read the vast majority of fantasy. I began reading an Asimov book once in the field in Korea, but I didn't like his style at all.
 

Saponification

Senior Member
I've always believed that "literature" is, well, everything. Not just Jane Austen and William Shakespeare. But don't get me wrong, I'm not defending genre fiction. The best description I ever heard of The Da Vinci Code is that it's "pulp pornography."
 

kintaris

Senior Member
i agree that most fantasy is pretty dull, flat and unoriginal. However, I would strongly recommend authors such as Pratchett, Tom Holt, and Douglas Adams, who have begun to bridge the gap between genre ficiton and literature. Although strictly called 'comic fantasy' writers, these authors always present philosophies, commentaries on life and such in a very subtle way which is also very powerful - particularly Pratchett. TP also manages to cast a light on our own socities' absurdities that we have just accepted by mirroring them in his own world.

I think sometimes it is necessary to create a whole new world to get some really strong philosophical points across. And isn't that what most literature writers are trying to do?

kintaris
 

LensmanZ313

Senior Member
The whole concept of literature thing is funny. To me, storytelling is an art, a high art, indeed. It's a grand tradition, spinning a tale for people to enjoy; it's even better when you spin one that makes them think. Gulliver's Travels is fantasy and it's satire at it's best.

I once had a creative writing teacher who hated . . . hated science fiction yet he loved A Brave New World and The Time Machine, for their social commentary. This was also a man who thought that the works of Shakespeare were meant to be read as literature but never performed as plays; yet, he was an active member of the local theater organization.

There are some real gems, some diamonds in the rough, in genre fiction. So, don't easily dismiss it.

And, don't take the uppity attitude of PublishAmerica. Those bastards were taught a damned good lesson.
 

Talia_Brie

Senior Member
strangedaze said:
I won't say where I stand on the issue, I just want to see you people tear eachother apart ;)

That's a good policy :twisted:

Not Eragon. Definitely not.

I think there are skilled writers putting out genre fiction. George R R Martin is one of them. Stephen King is another. I believe that in years to come these people will become recognised for their skill despite the genres they have chosen to write.

Asimov is also exceptionally talented, as was Ray Bradbury, and so is Samuel Delaney.

There are definitely people out there writing genre fiction who are very good at it. And there are defintiely people writing genre fiction who are not good at it.
 

Ralizah

Senior Member
All writing is literature, and all writing that comes from a person's heart is precious, no matter how well-written or poorly-written it is.
 

LensmanZ313

Senior Member
Look at Poe. He did a great amount of work in the genres of mystery and dark fantasy. I think he's the greatest American writer. The hell with Mark Twain!
 

semtecks

Senior Member
I take a story at face value. A fantasy or sci-fi story can be like junk food for the mind, but how could you say that about Tolkien? or H.G Wells?

These are people who were probably called hacks by the established writers and critics of their time, but they still survive, thrive even, today. How many school children, and dare i say it, yes i do, adults would prefer to read war and peace or lady chatterleys lover or the old man and the sea?

Dont know the answer? I'll tell you: not many
 
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