Fiction Poetry Life
This is my inaugural post! The About page gives the full whats and wherefores of this blog. The Cliffs Notes version is that with each post I will take a literary work, either classic or contemporary, and attempt to expand on one small aspect of the story, poem or play that is relevant to life in today’s fast-paced, electronic-driven world.
My focus will be on literary works as opposed to popular fiction. I don’t mean to be elitist. I’m a big fan of both popular fiction and literary fiction. I don’t subscribe to the high-brow vs. low-brow line of thinking. But popular fiction is not suffering from a loss of readership, while literature is.
Is Literature Relevant?
Perhaps, in our very modern age, literature (in the form of novels, short stories, poems and plays) seems irrelevant, out of touch, or maybe just too much hard work. Do these works still have a place in contemporary society? For my part, I hope so, because I believe that literature and life connect on a visceral level, the former illuminating the latter, the latter enriched by the former.
What is Literature?
All of this begs the question though, Just what is literature? Derbhile Dromey, of the World of Writing blog, provides a fine breakdown of the difference between literary fiction and popular fiction in the post Literary Fiction vs Popular Fiction, the gist of which is, “While literary fiction aims to hold up a mirror to the human condition, popular fiction aims to entertain, to thrill, to comfort.”
I think that’s a spot-on explanation. Both of these aims are of equal value. I love to be entertained, in fact, the escapism that comes with it is truly necessary some days. On the other hand, reflecting, and maybe even magnifying, the human condition serves an important purpose, making literature timeless and still relevant, even the pre-twenty-first century works.
According to Franz Kafka, “A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.” What is the frozen sea? It’s the world-weariness that grows in us over a lifetime of observing just how cynical, contradictory and cruel some people can be. Literature specifically has the power to break through the ice that develops over our hearts and minds through the years, numbing us to beauty and truth when they present themselves. By holding up a mirror to the human condition, literature reveals, rather than obscures, reality.
Of course, this is all a matter of opinion. I’d love to hear what you all think: Is literature relevant today? Is there any real difference between literary fiction and popular fiction?