Sunday, August 14, 2016

Thank God for "genre fiction"

Anne on writing:

As far as I know, the twentieth and the twenty-first centuries are the ONLY time in the history of the West that people have thought high literature had to be pedestrian realism about the everyday lives of the middle class.

Imagine someone taking Shakespeare aside and saying, "Now, Will, you've never known a prince of Denmark, or a Scottish witch. Isn't it time for you to write something serious, something about what you know? Write about your hometown, Will, your family, about real people in real situations that people can relate to."

Yes, pedestrian realism has created classics like Kings Row, To Kill A Mockingbird, and The Sun Also Rises. But it is not the ONLY path to greatness in literature.

Thank God Mary Shelley pursued her man-made monster in Frankenstein and the Brontes did not stifle their larger than life Heathcliff or Mr. Rochester; and that Dickens boldly gave life to Miss Havisham in her rotting wedding gown. Thank God Poe wrote his grim metaphorical short stories and poems, and Hawthorne created Goodman Brown, and Bram Stoker gave life to Dracula. Thank God for Melville's great white whale and Conan Doyle's genius Sherlock Holmes (and Sherlock's brother Mycroft!)

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