How do you guys distinguish good literature from bad literature?
I can read a book, get really into it, like it or hate it, but I am so bad at actually valuing a book on its literary content/value.
I seriously thought Murakami was high lit before I came here and someone explained to me why he is not high lit. I can only recognize this shit when people cut it out for me. I want to be able to judge things myself, not be dependent on other people to see what I don't see.
What shall I do? find an introduction to literary criticism?
What if I'm stuck at step 1? With most books I can see what the book is trying to do, but some books I just don't. Do I blame the author, say it was badly written? Or do I blame myself, that I am not well-read or clever enough to understand the book?
Eg. Kafka on the Shore, I have absolutely no fucking idea what the book was trying to accomplish, but I enjoyed it. I have heard something about his books revolving a lot about japanese culture, is that why I don't "get" it?
With a few books, I just simply don't know what they are trying to do.
People around here tend to be very biased towards "good prose": basically, if you can read the book at the rate of one page per minute, it's probably too straightforward; basic description, basic dialogue; to be considered high lit. If you eventually have to stop your reading for a moment, completely disregarding the plot, to admire how marvelously a passage is written, then it might be something beyond plain fiction. I risk saying that George R.R. Martin and Tolkien would be considered high literature, if their prose wasn't so dumbed down in order to appeal to the young adult audience.
That said, prose isn't everything. A book that is considered to be a good literature will often contain not only a plot, but sub-plots, and sub-sub-plots, that are actually there for a reason and intertwine at the end, rather than being simply filler or pointless digressions. It often will have many characters, and they oughtn't be linear, but rather complex, flawed, but malleable; something a human being, often yourself, can identify with. Finally, it won't contain the cliched "moral of the story", but something similar; the story will end, and it'll leave some questions and thoughts hanging in the air, something that you will think about even after you've finished the book and moved on. A lot of classics are discussed regarding to their philosophical content, even though they are not philosophy books.
If you just can't figure it out, simply read more, without caring whether it's "good literature" or "bad literature". People often grow out of bad literature, and realize that it's bad literature, after reading tons of it. It'll also help talk about books with "normies", without coming off as a literary elitist who has never read Harry Potter yet is so certain that it is garbage.
If I dislike a book, I put it down. Life is too short to read unenjoyable books after you get some of the basics down in university [the bible, the greeks, introductions to philosophy and so forth]. No matter how much I read literary criticism, it wont change my taste.
Ive been thinking about what would happen if I got some terrible form of cancer, and was given months to live. How disappointing it would be to think I spent time forcing meme novels down my throat when I wont get to the 20 deep book in my backlog.
Read pic related. Yeah, some people say it's really simple, but for a pleb like you it can really help you in trying to figure out themes and subtext.
Just try to ask yourself questions like, What is the story trying to say? What is the message? How does it accomplish this? What are parts in the plot that convey the story's themes? How do the characters change according to these events and/or interactions with each other or themselves? Is the style important and why? Does it use literary analogies and references, and if it does, how does it affect things?
If you have shitty answers to most of these questions, the book probably isn't very "literary". You could just be crappy at reading, but you can practice. Just don't be afraid to be thoughtful about your own interpretations, and be open to reading many different kinds of stories.
Why do you care? Why can't you read what you like? You won't get any special cookies for reading high literature only.
This guy here gets it.
And I can say, having done the mistake myself, that if you submit your beautiful dense artistic prose to an editor for a literary agency, you'll get a big fuck you in return.
Dense prose doesn't equal good book.
Check Rumi. Incredible depth in incredible simplicity.
PS: in most of the cases, when a writer doesn't have something interesting to say, he just decorates it with dense prose to pass it off as high literature.
"the artist is dead" is the worst fucking bullshit I've ever heard
It's the equivalent to calling a so-bad-it's-good film and calling it a masterpiece because it failed so hard at what it was going for.
It's some younger brother bullshit, all about the critic and their feelings.
I can't agree with this, you're mistaking the consequences of a defective prose with its causes and this error might lead to misguided evaluation. Regarding the writing quality, the sole indicator is its efficience, which means the capacity of treating the idea in the more authentic, shortest way. It's not a “short bird with a short tail”, it's a “wren”. It's not “pale reddish”, it's “fallow”. The “quality of eloquence”, the “power of eloquence”, the “faculty of eloquence”, the “talent of eloquence” are referring to four different nuances. It also implies the author doesn't, ever state an information expected by the reader so “the sky was blue”, “the mother” that saw her child die two minutes ago “is sad”, “he is a man” are all meaningless details that provide nothing new to the reader and accordingly should be avoided. Attention should be paid to the flow, the way the text is pronounced so it sounds euphonious, with a couple of aliterations and a well-thought stream; it will be pleasant even if the text is read silently. Sentences like “my boyfriend bent over me, breathed in my neck, muttered a mea culpa and made his way out of my room” are silver-toned and smooth the rhythm.
Literature doesn't actually exist. It is nothing more than a category created by the state to interpolate you. (Eagleton 169-89)
I'd recommend learning some literary theory and the history behind it so that you can go back to reading what you like instead of letting people select what you can read via arbitrary categories such as "literariness".
Eagleton, Terry. "Conclusion: Political Criticism." Literary Theory: An Introduction. 2nd ed. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota, 1983. 169-89. Print.
Where is the lie doe tbqh f a m
This guy is actually correct. Eagleton pretty convincingly dismantles the whole concept of literature, reducing it to, "It is what we say it is right now," but he concedes this means we have to accept that one day Shakespeare might not be literature. In short, it's a really shaky concept that you shouldn't waste too much time over.