It’s the nightmare essay question of every English major: Define literature.

Here goes…

booksbigI think for a piece of writing to be considered “literature”, it should defy boundaries in some way. Some examples. Dracula was considered trashy (by some) in its time but is thought of as a classic now – and not just because it is old. While it is about vampires and the supernatural, it is hardly a ghost story alone. It is also about madness, trust, love, friendship, science and bravery. It’s defies its genre and time period to stand outside as a really good story.

I’m not a sci-fi person (normally), but  A Wrinkle In Time was a game-changer for me. I don’t care for romances very much, but I can appreciate what Gone With the Wind did as a tentpole novel.

When a book doesn’t even attempt to do anything but distract, it falls short of literature. I find a close comparison in the film industry. When a film seeks only to make flashes and be eye candy, it will never be true cinema. It has a purpose, but not in becoming part of any canon. It’s there as candy — which is fine. On the other hand, when a film seeks to bring something to the table, when it attempts to inspire and wants to be remembered, it will more likely be considered cinema. Even B movies with low budgets can ask tough questions and be appreciated decades later.

So, that is my attempt to define literature. Thoughts?

2 thoughts on “ARMCHAIR BEA 2014 – Literature”

  1. I really agree with you! I’m not really good at voicing my thoughts but I think literature is something that can withstand the test of time or is something that is very representative of the people of that time. In my opinion, Harry Potter would probably be a children’s classic like A Wrinkle In Time. I read Dracula when I was a teenager and I really love it! It’s so different from the vampire stories nowadays. To be honest, I was rather surprised that I loved it but I do! Best vampire book read, ever!

  2. Wow, I love the way you defined literature. I didn’t answer the question cause really my answer was gonna be: those “classic” books they made us read in English class. Which is totally lame. I look forward to seeing what else you share with us during Armchair BEA, nice to meet you!

    Here’s my Getting to Know Me Post. I hope you will stop by and linkup with our Small Victories Sunday linkup while you are there!

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