Fwd: Re: Byatt on Potter

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Fri Jul 11 13:07:47 EDT 2003

Charlie wrote in reply to me:

>> There are others.  I mean, I *think* Toni Morrison is literature
>The Nobel Prize would certainly imply so! And for my part I think Beloved is
>one of the best books by a contemporary author that I've read (though -
>please note! - it was a while ago and I don't have time or energy right now
>to defend that statement at length....).

'Sall right, I wasn't about to attack it. :-)  Though I'm not sure the
Nobel = literature: Pearl S Buck also won it, and I have a nasty feeling
her work is now regarded as having been "popular" rather than "literature".
And Kipling we have already spoken of...

>But 'Modern' is certainly a term that demands definition, where it's not
>obvious from context. To historians, for example, Shakespeare lived in the
>Early Modern period, and is thus a 'modern' writer. And in the querelle of
>ancients and moderns, as fought in the 17th/18thC, pretty much anyone from
>Thomas Aquinas on qualified. That's even without bringing in modernism as an
>early 20thC literary/artistic movement, let alone the 'lay' meaning.

How about it being spelt "Modern" if it's being specialist/technical
termish, and requiring that the person using it thus say *how* they are
defining it in the particular case, and "modern" if it is as defined in the
ordinary dictionary?


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