Is "literary" still a valid category for fiction?
A working definition of "literary fiction" is fiction that does not fall easily into a recognizable category (mystery, romance, science fiction, etc.). It is NOT a measure of quality. In my experience, many consider literary fiction pretentious, self-indulgent "art for art's sake." Verbal artistry may take precedence over narrative. It is often assumed to be written for reasons other than entertainment.
I've always associated literary fiction with the more realistic and dense forms of writing. (Dense meaning that there is so much under the surface that it takes a college course to sort it all out.) Genre fiction, or 'popular' fiction, has the same capacity to be deep and realistic, but people don't generally associate it with either. Honestly, genres bleed together all the time, but marketing forces them into their respective categories. Literary fiction can be pretentious at times, and genre fiction can be stupid, but restricting yourself to one or the other is the worst thing a reader can do. The best books are the ones you don't expect to find and they can come from any corner of the writing spectrum.
I would suggest that literary fiction and literature are very real and alive. There are three distinctions to be made. Genre fiction has the primary purpose of entertainment; literary fiction has the primary purpose of art, which is seen many ways. A very useful one, from John Gardner, is that art shares my dream so that it can become your dream. Method of engagement is a second distinction. Entertainment engages by predictability that creates comfortable excitement, and primarily uses the human curiosity of "What happens next?" Literature, according to E. M. Forrester, uses that technique of engaging the reader least among all. Lastly, literature can relate to or come from any genre, but does not fit in it.
Literary fiction falls into two useful categories. One is traditional fiction, where the author succeeds by maintaining the dream. The other is metafiction, in which the awareness of being fiction is in some way expressed in the fiction. this breaks the dream but develops other arenas of exploration to exchange ideas and perspectives on life and literature.
The sharing of dreams is difficult business. Few are interested in art; the entertainment of genre fiction is, well, more entertaining. It is hard, also, to evaluate artistic literature. But the effort is worth it - as a writer, to be able to share one's dreams, even if only with a few, is a rare gift. And, for the reader, it is a gift to receive the dreams of others.
by MPChris 6 years ago
Do you consider Literary Fiction to be better than Genre Fiction?In the academic world, there is often this divide between 'literary' and 'genre' fiction. Examples of this dispute can be seen with the fiction critic Harold Bloom, who criticizes everyone from Stephen King to Maya Angelou. He even...
by Jane Ramona Rynkiewicz Frieman 3 years ago
In my Profile on HubPages I emphasize a statement "The Best Writers of Our Time are Those Individuals Who Have Not Attained Fame and Fortune". Do you agree? Is the statement too general? Elaborate on why you think so.
by rebekahELLE 5 years ago
Do you prefer reading literary fiction or pop fiction and can you tell us why?Do you have favorites from either genre?
by Susan Reid 7 years ago
I see fantasy and science fiction is a genre you are interested in. How did you first start?
by bledsoep 7 years ago
Do you think that genre fiction is more, less, or equally relevant compared to "realistic" drama?Genre fiction would include categories such as horror, sci-fi, fantasy, romance, mystery, and western, among others. "Realistic" drama is often coming-of-age stories, personal...
by marriedwithdebt 6 years ago
Before you ask, yes, I'm probably crazy, but I think this could work with the right people.What I am looking for is 9 other writers to join me in crowdsourcing a piece of genre fiction, approximately 50,000 words, with the goal of self-publishing on the Kindle platform by early Spring 2012 to catch...
Copyright © 2018 HubPages Inc. and respective owners. Other product and company names shown may be trademarks of their respective owners. HubPages® is a registered Service Mark of HubPages, Inc. HubPages and Hubbers (authors) may earn revenue on this page based on affiliate relationships and advertisements with partners including Amazon, Google, and others.
|HubPages Device ID||This is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.|
|Login||This is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.|
|HubPages Traffic Pixel||This is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.|
|Remarketing Pixels||We may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.|
|Conversion Tracking Pixels||We may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.|