Lit. Crit. (was: Re: More than you ever wanted to know (was Re: answers from Diana))

Philip.Belben at Philip.Belben at
Mon Jun 4 12:55:43 EDT 2001

Paul, quoting me:

>> On the other other hand, when someone in my class - probably me -
>> discovered that one of the options we could have taken was science
>> fiction, Mr E---- said something like "It may be fun to read, but
>> you wouldn't want to study it", a classic case of literary bias,
>> though I didn't realise it at the time.
> Or perhaps it was meant literally.
> (One recalls many horror stories about books being ruined for life
> under the dissection of English Lit. classes...)

Well, I thought at the time it was meant literally, but not in the sense that
studying would destroy our enjoyment of the books.  Mr E---- seemed to be saying
that Sci Fi books were not sufficiently deep that studying them would be
rewarding.  He didn't seem to think that any of our set "novels" would be ruined
by studying them, after all.

I still think he was a good teacher.  I'm sure I could have come out of the
course hating all three books, but I was merely not interested - much the same
emotion I felt going into it.  That said, I have used set-book-dom as an excuse
for not liking Silas Marner, but I will confess I wasn't really being honest.

What it really came down to, in my case, was that Some Authors Are Not For Some
Readers.  Like Ven, I don't like Jane Austen.  Her books may be wonderful, as my
mother - and Hallie, who persuaded me to try one - insist.  But they don't work
- or haven't so far worked - for me.  This may be strange, as I am an avid fan
of Georgette Heyer, but that's just the way it seems to work.

(FWIW the JA I tried was Pride and Prejudice.  I found it very strange, since
Fitzwilliam Darcy seemed to be two completely different people, and this ruined
the book for me, despite much of it being excellent.  The irony is, I know of
exactly one other case where a fictional character seems to me to be two
irreconcilable people: Vierran/Ann in Hexwood.  And here it doesn't seem to
matter nearly so much.  It bugs me a bit, but it certainly doesn't ruin the
book!  Perhaps because DWJ realsises the difficulty, and acknowledges it: Ann's
speculation that the Bannus must have found some very queer bits of people's
natures to work on...)


PS It was a serious question, "What is Lit Crit?"!  And no-one has attempted to
answer it except Gill's little comment about deconstructing clocks...

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