Genre prejudice

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at Proffitt.com
Tue Jul 15 17:57:20 EDT 2003


On Tue, 15 Jul 2003 11:31:56 -0600, Robyn Starkey wrote:

>Thanks for the link, Charles. I though the article was interesting, 
>although I hate that particular intepretation of the William Carlos 
>Williams poem. I have some issues with some of Wolverton's statements, 
>because it seems to me he is making a lot of his arguments based on fiction 
>by men, and his comments don't fit so well with a lot of feminist work. 

It seems to me that he has two separate issues there that he unnecessarily
blends together.  On the one hand, it's about one genre being elevated above
all others to the point that it's considered "real" (think Amber) in a way
that the others are not.  But he also gets into whether or not
representatives of this genre are worthy of reading at all, and that's
shakier ground.  All that does is set up a different standard for judging
all works of fiction.  But can you list some feminist texts that don't fit
within the broad theory, Robyn?  That seems as though it could be a good
point for evaluating literary fiction in general, whether feminism itself
stands outside the mainstream or not.  I would think "not," but you never
know.

>Also, what about magic realism? That is an accepted literary genre which 
>doesn't appear to have made a blip on Wolverton's radar.

Much of magical realism has a strong literary component that I think makes
it acceptable as part of the genre, even with the fantastic elements.  (I
should say, this is my theory, because magical realism is not my thing and
so I only have experience with a scattered few texts.)  I do know that in
instances where I was in a mixed group of readers (fantasy vs. literary) and
we were discussing something that had a strong magical component to it, it
was as if we had read different books.  For one thing, the magical parts
were universally interpreted as metaphorical or imaginary by literary
readers, while the fantasists took them literally.  

Which brings me back to the idea that literary readers look for something
very different than the rest of us when they read--or you could say that
fantasy readers look for something very different, etc.  Calling other
literatures "childish" or "regressive" might just be a function of people
generally wanting to believe that where they are developmentally is better
than where they were five years ago.  Which probably means I should stop
insulting mainstream literary books and their readers for being unable to
ever come to the point.  :)

Melissa Proffitt

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