replies from Diana

Hallie O'Donovan hallieod at
Mon Apr 16 16:24:00 EDT 2001

Ven wrote:

>Oops. I actually tried to think of a better description than "light
>weight", I didn't intend anything disparaging but that implication is
>sort of there. To clarify: if I'm thinking of a scale from 1 to 10 I'd put
>Ulysses at 10 and Mills and Boon at 1. Tolstoy and Dickens at 8,
>along with Samuel R Delany, Dwj at 6 or 7, along with Bujold and
>Pratchett. 5 is average and thus I'd place Huff and Wrede at 4. I'm
>working out the placings according to how much stretching my
>mind has to do, I never finished Ulysses and I guess I find 1s and
>probably 2s not worth bothering with. However as I haven't read any
>Huff more than once so far, her placing is provisional and the whole
>thing is just straight off the top of my head anyway and IMHO, and
>independent of literary merit anyway..
>Suspecting I'll return to this topic .......................

*Hoping* you will!

I found this so interesting, Ven.  Firstly there was the fascination 
of seeing another person's mental list, which was fun in itself. 
(Dickens the same as Tolstoy?  Pratchett & Bujold?  Interesting!) 
But then it occurred to me that, despite knowing fully how you meant 
this list, I was still somehow imposing some kind of value system on 
it.  This might be because I've been tossing around a related idea 
for a while, which might form a similar list.  Maybe.

I got thinking about this when we learned a bit about the early 
history of the realist novel in my Lit course; we had an extract 
(from Arnold Kettle, for anyone who might care) on the medieval 
romance which contained the following:  "The aim of such literature 
is not to sum up experience, not to enlarge the imagination, ... but 
to provide sensation for sensation's sake." I found I'd written 
"Harry Potter?" in the margin, before I even thought about it.

I hope Rowling fans won't take offense at this, because it's not 
meant that way at all. The HP books are definitely fun, imaginative, 
page-turners, but when I think about why they're not favourites of 
mine, I think it's because I find nothing to learn, no enlargement in 
any way from them.  (This is not even IMO, but just *for me*, which 
is even less of a judgment of the books.)  But even the DWJ books I 
don't love, even the ones which haven't as huge an impact as, say, 
F&H did (with the force of the "hero business means not caring what 
other people think of you" message), almost always have something to 
say/learn from/whatever.  Somewhere, I think I've equated this with 
feeling that DWJ has Wisdom.

So despite knowing better, I was still reading Wrede making a 4 on 
Ven's (completely different) list as meaning that Wrede had less 
wisdom.  But it gets confusing, because I can't quite figure out an 
equivalent list that works. For me  DWJ has Something To Say, Wisdom 
(rates a 10 on that scale!), Jane Austen has it, Connie Willis, Marie 
Elizabeth Pope (at least in Perilous Gard), Cynthia Voigt all do, but 
I can't figure out some of my other favourites at all, including 
Wrede, McKillip & Bujold.

I don't know.  This seemed to mean some glimmer of something in the 
middle of the night, but it's pretty well gone now.  Along with any 
conviction that any of us wouldn't really prefer unlimited puppies. 
:)  Puppies are good.


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