The Booker thing was a catalyst for me in a bizarre way. It's perceived as an accolade to be published as a 'literary' writer, but, actually, it's pompous and it's fake. Literary fiction is often nothing more than a genre in itself. I'd always read omnivorously and often thought much literary fiction is read by young men and women in their 20s, as substitutes for experience.
The mortality rate of literary friendships is high. Writers tend to be bad risks as friends ~ probably for much the same reasons that they are bad matrimonial risks. They expend the best parts of themselves in their work. Moreover, literary ambition has a way of turning into literary competition; if fame is the spur, envy may be a concomitant.
Matthew J. Bruccoli
The provincial intellectual is doomed to arguing at low level... there is still no Australian literary world, not in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide. It is some consolation to realise that there is no literary world in Birmingham or Los Angeles either. I have heard there is one in Montreal, but I don't believe it. The literary world is in London and New York, the only cities big enough to sustain magazines which can afford to reject copy.
It remains a mystery to me why some of that [pulp] fiction should be judged inferior to the rafts and rafts of bad social [literary] fiction which continues to be treated by literary editors as if it were somehow superior, or at least worthier of our attention. The careerist literary imperialism of the Bloomsbury years did a lot to produce fiction's present unseemly polarities.
The moment in the account of Adam and Eve in the book of Genesis is when they realize they're naked and try and cover themselves with fig leaves. That seemed to me a perfect allegory of what happened in the 20th century with regard to literary modernism. Literary modernism grew out of a sense that, "Oh my god! I'm telling a story! Oh, that can't be the case, because I'm a clever person. I'm a literary person! What am I going to do to distinguish myself?...a lot of modernism does seem to come out of a fear of being thought an ordinary storyteller.
I do not like postmodernism, postapocalyptic settings, postmortem narrators, or magic realism. I rarely respond to supposedly clever formal devices, multiple fonts, pictures where they shouldn't be-basically, gimmicks of any kind. I find literary fiction about the Holocaust or any other major world tragedy to be distasteful-nonfiction only, please. I do not like genre mash-ups e la the literary detective novel or the literary fantasy. Literary should be literary, and genre should be genre, and crossbreeding rarely results in anything satisfying. I do not like children's books, especially ones with orphans, and I prefer not to clutter my shelves with young adult. I do not like anything over four hundred pages or under one hundred fifty pages. I am repulsed by ghostwritten novels by reality television stars, celebrity picture books, sports memoirs, movie tie-in editions, novelty items, and-I imagine this goes without saying-vampires.
Here the phenomenologist has nothing in common with the literary critic who, as has frequently been noted, judges a work that he could not create and, if we are to believe certain facile condemnations, would not want to create. A literary critic is a reader who is necessarily severe. By turning inside out like a glove an overworked complex that has become debased to the point of being part of the vocabulary of statesmen, we might say that the literary critic and the professor of rhetoric, who know-all and judge-all, readily go in for a simplex of superiority. As for me, being an addict of felicitous reading, I only read and re-read what I like, with a bit of reader's pride mixed in with much enthusiasm.
The nation as the horizon of an identity that you want to come into being as a fundamental absence of something that is compromised, something that needs to be rescued or made - these matters preoccupy the third world writer. It is seductive for a Marxist understanding of literary practice and production in the sense that it says that material culture determines literary output.
That the question of likability even exists in literary conversations is odd. It implies that we are engaging in a courtship. When characters are unlikable, they don't meet our mutable, varying standards. Certainly we can find kinship in fiction, but literary merit shouldn't be dictated by whether we want to be friends or lovers with those about whom we read.
In my profession more generally, it's not an exaggeration to say that masculinity is viewed as the root of all evil. If you were to take a literary theory course, you might think it would be about literature, but it's really not. It's about all the various forms of oppression on earth and how we can see them playing out in literary works. And behind all these forms of oppression is a guy.
When we consider the close connection between science and industrial development on the one hand, and between literary and aesthetic cultivation and an aristocratic social organization on the other, we get light on the opposition between technical scientific studies and refining literary studies. We have before us the need of overcoming this separation in education if society is to be truly democratic.
The true elitists in the literary world are the ones who have become annoyed by literary ambition in any form, who have converted the very meaning of ambition so totally that it now registers as an act of disdain, a hostility to the poor common reader, who should never be asked to do anything that might lead to a pulled muscle. (What a relief to be told there's no need to bother with a book that might seem thorny, or abstract, or unusual.) The elitists are the ones who become angry when it is suggested to them that a book with low sales might actually deserve a prize (...) and readers were assured that the low sales figures for some of the titles could only mean that the books had failed our culture's single meaningful literary test.
That literary-popular distinction is, in my view, vastly overstated. At the far poles there are clearly books that are purely commercial and purely literary, written for audiences that want to see the same thing enacted over and over and over again. But the middle is where most people read and most people write.
The problem with a lot of people who read only literary fiction is that they assume fantasy is just books about orcs and goblins and dragons and wizards and bullshit. And to be fair, a lot of fantasy is about that stuff. The problem with people in fantasy is they believe that literary fiction is just stories about a guy drinking tea and staring out the window at the rain while he thinks about his mother. And the truth is a lot of literary fiction is just that. Like, kind of pointless, angsty, emo, masturbatory bullshit. However, we should not be judged by our lowest common denominators. And also you should not fall prey to the fallacious thinking that literary fiction is literary and all other genres are genre. Literary fiction is a genre, and I will fight to the death anyone who denies this very self-evident truth. So, is there a lot of fantasy that is raw shit out there? Absolutely, absolutely, it's popcorn reading at best. But you can't deny that a lot of lit fic is also shit. 85% of everything in the world is shit. We judge by the best. And there is some truly excellent fantasy out there. For example, Midsummer Night's Dream; Hamlet with the ghost; Macbeth, ghosts and witches; I'm also fond of the Odyessey; Most of the Pentateuch in the Old Testament, Gargantua and Pantagruel. Honestly, fantasy existed before lit fic, and if you deny those roots you're pruning yourself so closely that you can't help but wither and die.
I owe all my originality, such as it is, to my determination not to be a literary man. Instead of belonging to a literary club I belong to a municipal council. Instead of drinking and discussing authors and reviews, I sit on committees with capable practical greengrocers and bootmakers... Keep away from books and from men who get their ideas from books, and your own books will always be fresh.
George Bernard Shaw
My claim is simply that the literary approach is one necessary way to read and interpret the Bible, an approach that has been unjustifiably neglected. Despite that neglect, the literary approach builds at every turn on what biblical scholars have done to recover the original, intended meaning of the biblical text.
Edmund Wilson was our greatest American literary critic because he was more than a literary critic: He was a fearless, even radical judge of the society he lived in. (See, for example, _A Piece of My Mind_; _The Cold War and the Income Tax_; the introduction to _Patriotic Gore_.) Our conventional critics cannot forgive him for those scandalous lapses in good taste.
I don't care about being a literary personality - that doesn't appeal to me, especially because the literary world doesn't appeal to me. I actually don't feel like I even belong in it. If this was high school, I would be sitting with the Goths, looking at everyone, being like, 'Whatever.'