Pride and Prejudice... and Zombies

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manored
 
Reply Fri 24 Jul, 2009 10:43 am
@TickTockMan,
TickTockMan;79084 wrote:

Yes, this is true. Upon my tombstone I will have engraved the words, "I Wish I'd Spent More Time Doing Things That Aren't Fun."
Please, do =)

Didymos Thomas;79095 wrote:

And I'm sure you are not going to suggest that people who devote their lives to the study and appreciation of the art are somehow in mass confusion as to what constitutes great literature.
I must agree with him that, they, indeed, kinda are. Here in Brazil most of what is considered "classic" is largely outdate, ideologically speaking, yet anything with less than 50 years is totally ignored then what the students will have to read to avaliate their interpretation skills is chosen, what I find really anoying. Its not that the classics arent good, its just that they arent better than modern literature, and thus shouldnt be put atop large pillars and workshipped...
 
Khethil
 
Reply Fri 24 Jul, 2009 01:43 pm
@VideCorSpoon,
The zombie-thing is cute, and probably funny. Yea...

I read a great deal; and love it. I've been trying to find that perfect balance between contemporary and classic literature and think I'm close: It has to do with variety. Yes, Austin's books (most anyway) are what I'd consider to be very well crafted classics that communicated very well thoughts, feelings and the subtleties of human interaction very tastefully. I believe though - and don't quote me here - but at the time such books were considered the 'Harlequin Romance' of the time (which isn't unusual: Shakespearean plays, performed during his lifetime and shortly after his death, though popular with many often required intermission acts, such as dancing bears, in order to keep the audience marginally entertained).

I do tend to find the most timeless classics are just so for a reason: They're done so well that people over years, decades, centuries or millenia thought and continue to think so - across the continents and years - that's gotta tell you something. I've been going through classic literature for several years now and have a long way to go; but I'm also having a blast! There are a lot of good quality current-day authors out there, the only problem is finding them. I've had my fill of gaudy thrill/intrigue/drama/scifi attempts though; and yes, I have noticed a propensity, as time has progressed, to move from artful and patient-description to gimme-a-thrill-now-or-I'll-put-down-your-book attempts. Sign of the times? Just my perception? Who the hell knows... it's how it seems to me.

One of the ways I keep that "variety" that I mentioned is to also be reading other books at the same time. I'm sure everyone would work it differently, but at any time I'm reading three books; spending at least an hour a day doing so and rotating them. One slot is my classic literature, the second is contemporary nonfiction and the third is any non-fiction. This has been working well for me since about 2003.

So yea, I wouldn't piss and moan so much over the worth of any sort of literature type; but I will suggest this, before you poop over any type/genre of literature, you ought give it an honest try first.

Thanks
 
Caroline
 
Reply Fri 24 Jul, 2009 01:47 pm
@Khethil,
Khethil;79381 wrote:

There are a lot of good quality current-day authors out there, the only problem is finding them.
Thanks

Have you tried Kate Mosse? (Sorry for going off topic).
 
VideCorSpoon
 
Reply Fri 24 Jul, 2009 04:36 pm
@Khethil,
Khethil;79381 wrote:
...Yes, Austin's books (most anyway) are what I'd consider to be very well crafted classics that communicated very well thoughts, feelings and the subtleties of human interaction very tastefully. I believe though - and don't quote me here - but at the time such books were considered the 'Harlequin Romance' of the time (which isn't unusual: Shakespearean plays, performed during his lifetime and shortly after his death, though popular with many often required intermission acts, such as dancing bears, in order to keep the audience marginally entertained).


Its interesting how you mention harlequin romances and Jane Austen novels. This comment isn't towards you in any way, but it brings up a point I thought about. I have always found it amusing how most people today consider Jane Austen novels romance novels. Its ironic because Jane Austen herself was of the opinion that romance novels were a gigantic waste of time for the reader, and even went so far as to make fun of it in many of her books. Her books, although they have a veneer of love, are more social commentaries than romance. It's like Gilbert and Sullivan librettos (like HMS Pinafore, Iolanthe, Pirates of Penzance, etc.)... they are comedic of course, but they are above all social commentaries.

Austen displays her feelings about romance novels in many ways. In Northanger Abbey for example, Austen crafted the central character of Catherine Morland to display the faults of reading romance novels excessively and "warp" her sense of reality and sensibility. She even goes so far as to completely trash popular novels at the time like The Monk and Adolfo. The main character ends up in a very bad circumstance becuase she excessively reads romance novels. In Persuasion, the main character Anne converses with the segway character Capt. Benneck on romance and poetry, where Benneck, his mind influenced by romance novels and poetry, is of the sound opinion that women are "fickle" and "flighty." Anne at once reminds Capt. Benneck that all of those romance novels are written by men. LOL!

And yet many people can't get over that thin veneer of superficial romance her books have been characterized as. Instead of looking at Northanger Abbey's message as (in Austens own words) "discouraging parental tyranny or rewarding filial disobediance," everyone is concerned with the relationship between Catherine and Henry Tilney. Same for Persuasion, where the whole moral of the story is not to be easily persuaded by those around you and for you to make your own choices. I suppose people tend to fix more on the the more obvious connections rather than the more subtle.

The same thing applies to Shakespeare as well. Look at The Merchant of Venice. If anyone said the story was more about Portia and Bassanio and thier own love interest rather than the condition of Shylock and Judaism, they certainly did not pay attention while reading. You could say the same thing about Much Ado About Nothing as well, even though it is to the brim with romance... and even Romeo and Juliet. The subtle context gets dropped at the first hint of romance now-a-days. But then again, that would explain a lot of things about people in general as we know them today.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Sat 25 Jul, 2009 02:17 pm
@VideCorSpoon,
TickTockMan;79136 wrote:
Oh, but that is what I'm doing. You're just being civilized by suggesting I'm not. I am criticizing P&P because it is not my cup of tea. My personal preference is what shapes my value judgement. I am not everyones cup of tea, and hence I am often criticized, as is the art/photography I produce on occasion, and which some poor misguided fools have actually paid me for. I'm fine with being criticized, and I am fine criticizing.


If your criticism is reducible to personal taste, then you have no criticism to make. Personal preference is important when we chose what art we, personally, absorb, but personal preference is essentially irrelevant when the discussion involves more people than one's self: personal preference is a minor anecdote.

Of course personal preference will always color a value judgment - while any one can tell that Led Zeppelin was a great band, I am likely to go a bit overboard in praise due to my personal preference. However, it is also possible for human beings to step back and discuss art as it relates to the community, whether that community is an online forum or the entire human race.

When we talk about classics and masterpieces, we have transcended our personal preference and crossed into the global discussion: we are not merely talking about what we like, personally, but instead, we are talking about what can be readily recognized as good art no matter where we take it. Crime and Punishment is brilliant in Russia, and in modern America. Basho was brilliant in Edo era Japan, and is brilliant in the modern, global world. These statements remain true even if it might be that I dislike C&P or Basho's haikus on a personal level - I am still capable of seeing the value of the work.

Similarly, we humans can step back and recognize art that, while we enjoy it, is simply not brilliant, or classic, or great except in so far as we happen to like it. I may have enjoyed Cussler's Sahara, but I know quite well that it is a trite action-adventure novel that barely passes as a decent page-turner. Because that's just it: writing a novel that people will enjoy is much easier than writing a novel that will be enjoyed and that will also inform the reader about human experience.

TickTockMan;79136 wrote:

Yes. The Shakespearean Literature professor I had was evil incarnate. She imparted wisdom with a 12 pound sledge, and the attitude of "you will enjoy Shakespeare with the same mad passion as I, or I will cast aspersions upon your character and screw up your GPA with a big fat D." Which some of us deserved, come to think of it.


Okay, but a teacher who is not talented at teaching is quite a different matter; although, it is all too often that people are turned off from a subject due to poor instruction.

But I am not sure how one poor teacher leads to the conclusion that teachers are sadistic in the way described. I mean, honestly, which makes more sense: 1) teachers are generally sadistic, in that they structure their classes in such a way as to inflict the most amount of pain and stress as possible upon their students, or, 2) teachers are generally interested in giving their students the best education possible, and this typically involves them running a demanding course after which students should be able to intelligently discuss the works covered?

TickTockMan;79136 wrote:
Comparing Cussler to Dante is like comparing apples to cinderblocks.


Ah, but both are literature. You obviously know the one to be better than the other, and I doubt you make this distinction by drawing names from a hat.

TickTockMan;79136 wrote:
That's not what I asked. I asked how reading the classics helps you to contribute to civilization.


Because literature is such a pillar of civilization, studying literature is a contribution to civilization. Further, the study of great literature helps the student cultivate the civilized mind.

manored;79325 wrote:

I must agree with him that, they, indeed, kinda are. Here in Brazil most of what is considered "classic" is largely outdate, ideologically speaking, yet anything with less than 50 years is totally ignored then what the students will have to read to avaliate their interpretation skills is chosen, what I find really anoying. Its not that the classics arent good, its just that they arent better than modern literature, and thus shouldnt be put atop large pillars and workshipped...


We have to be careful here. We have to ask ourselves, 'why do I prefer modern works to older classics?' You are not alone; I typically enjoy modern works more than I enjoy older works - I prefer Thompson to Austen any day.

I think that this is mostly the result of being a product of our times. We enjoy the more recent works because they were crafted with us in mind: we are the immediate audience. Don Quixote was not written for us, but for people living in Spain in Cervantes' time. Yet, it remains widely read because it was well written.

An important aspect of our studying, when we read a classic, should be getting an understanding of why the work was so beloved. What about the work resonated with it's immediate audience. We need to try and place the work, culturally. Reading a classic work is not unlike reading history. Someone once said that great literature is great social history, and I think there is a great deal of truth there.
 
manored
 
Reply Sun 26 Jul, 2009 11:20 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;79491 wrote:
We have to be careful here. We have to ask ourselves, 'why do I prefer modern works to older classics?' You are not alone; I typically enjoy modern works more than I enjoy older works - I prefer Thompson to Austen any day.

I think that this is mostly the result of being a product of our times. We enjoy the more recent works because they were crafted with us in mind: we are the immediate audience. Don Quixote was not written for us, but f

An important aspect of our studying, when we read a classic, should be getting an understanding of why the work was so beloved. What about the work resonated with it's immediate audience. We need to try and place the work, culturally. Reading a classic work is not unlike reading history. Someone once said that great literature is great social history, and I think there is a great deal of truth there.
The problem is that here in Brasil the present seens forsaken in name of the past: they dont make us read some classics, the make us read only classics, what is kinda anoying =)
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Sun 26 Jul, 2009 03:39 pm
@manored,
Well, that is a shame. In the US, we read the old classics as well as the new classics. I see both as being vitally important. We should read Cervantes and Carver.

The Latin American world has undergone a magnificent literary renaissance, producing some of the best magical realists of our time. It is a shame the education system has not brought those great authors and works into the fold.
 
TickTockMan
 
Reply Mon 27 Jul, 2009 05:12 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;79491 wrote:
If your criticism is reducible to personal taste, then you have no criticism to make.


Of course I do. Where does it say that I can't dish out criticism? I was given no rule book concerning these matters. Because an opinion is personal, does that automatically mean that it is wrong, even if it goes against the collective?

Didymos Thomas;79491 wrote:
personal preference is a minor anecdote.


Yes. I think The 'Borg said something similar to this . . . .

Didymos Thomas;79491 wrote:

When we talk about classics and masterpieces, we have transcended our personal preference and crossed into the global discussion: we are not merely talking about what we like, personally, but instead, we are talking about what can be readily recognized as good art no matter where we take it. Crime and Punishment is brilliant in Russia, and in modern America. Basho was brilliant in Edo era Japan, and is brilliant in the modern, global world. These statements remain true even if it might be that I dislike C&P or Basho's haikus on a personal level - I am still capable of seeing the value of the work.


All excellent points. I never said otherwise.

Didymos Thomas;79491 wrote:
I may have enjoyed Cussler's Sahara, but I know quite well that it is a trite action-adventure novel that barely passes as a decent page-turner. Because that's just it: writing a novel that people will enjoy is much easier than writing a novel that will be enjoyed and that will also inform the reader about human experience.


Just out of curiosity, Didymos, how old are you? This may (or may not) be relevant to this discussion.

Didymos Thomas;79491 wrote:
Because literature is such a pillar of civilization, studying literature is a contribution to civilization.


Studying any discipline in and of itself is not a necessarily a contribution. It is a mental activity. It only becomes a contribution if you actually do something to . . . uh . . . contribute or add on to.

Didymos Thomas;79491 wrote:
But I am not sure how one poor teacher leads to the conclusion that teachers are sadistic in the way described. I mean, honestly, which makes more sense: 1) teachers are generally sadistic, in that they structure their classes in such a way as to inflict the most amount of pain and stress as possible upon their students, or, 2) teachers are generally interested in giving their students the best education possible, and this typically involves them running a demanding course after which students should be able to intelligently discuss the works covered?


I can't really add anything to this statement, as I was just tugging your chain initially. My apologies for that. I think I am taking this far less seriously than others might.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Tue 28 Jul, 2009 08:46 am
@TickTockMan,
TickTockMan;79874 wrote:
Of course I do. Where does it say that I can't dish out criticism? I was given no rule book concerning these matters. Because an opinion is personal, does that automatically mean that it is wrong, even if it goes against the collective?


You can, sure, you can do whatever you like. But having the ability to level criticism does not mean that there is any significant content to the criticism. If your only criticism is derived from personal taste, then your "criticism" is a minor anecdote and not a substantial reflection on the work.

TickTockMan;79874 wrote:
Just out of curiosity, Didymos, how old are you? This may (or may not) be relevant to this discussion.


Twenty one.

TickTockMan;79874 wrote:
Studying any discipline in and of itself is not a necessarily a contribution. It is a mental activity. It only becomes a contribution if you actually do something to . . . uh . . . contribute or add on to.


Ah, but by studying am I not having any influence upon my mind and character? If the study does influence my mind and character, then studying the literature will necessarily influence my activity outside of that study - thereby making at least some small contribution.
 
 

 
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