Good literature and throwaway literature

Good literature and throwaway literature
Good literature and throwaway literature

An online friend who has something of an affinity for books and writing—and who doesn’t—made a post the other day about the books he saw people reading on the beach while on vacation. And so after mentioning a few names of mainstream authors, about ten or twelve, the kind you see in the bestseller columns of the Sunday press (or used to see, as several were long dead), he concluded: “Everything else was rubbish.”

Now, if you work in the field, if you write for a living, if you have a concern for books and writers, if you happen to feel that your life would not be what it is without literature—this ocean—or if you just you love reading and its infinite possibilities, you tend not to be good at these conversations. “Trash;” But really now, “garbage”?

How easy or difficult is it to categorize a book of prose like this, and fall into such an aesthetic fire? And from whom? Is it from me? From the good friend? From members of online reading clubs? From the intellectual patrons of the cafes of Kolonaki and Exarchia? Maybe from a reviewer? Of all critics combined? And which critics? From the site reviewers or the academics? By Harold Bloom? From someone who has read the particular book (or genre), or from someone who wouldn’t get their hands on it, let alone get it dirty, but already has an opinion?

And, what can we say trash in general? A book that does not belong to the category of so-called “literary fiction” but to “commercial fiction”, or to “genre fiction”, or to “narrative fiction”, or in the “best-selling” books of mass consumption / popular fiction (popular fiction), although these have mostly literary fiction titles, even if they don’t sell?

Which books are trash? And what does it mean that a book is trash? Does he destroy his reader’s mind? Does she leave him a fool? Does it rob him of the inherent rebelliousness we all have, so he won’t join our ranks when we take to the streets? After all, what the hell do we care what other people read? When did we discover that in the literary iconography of all men it should be he, and he, and that writer, and not they and the other filthy plebeian devils?

And, since we caught Harold Bloom in our mouths. Really, does this friend, who is also somewhat involved in literature, think that this great critic and teacher, the greatest of all, did not sweep for half a century and put everything that flew and everything that swam? That he hadn’t read all of Western prose, shall we say? Or any Nores carts? Does anyone, anyone, think that you can seriously speak with a raised eyebrow unless you are an avid and voracious consumer of all kinds, all categories and all kinds of books? Or do you become a Bloom by reading only the Bible (not all of it), Shakespeare, the mistranslated Melville and Faulkner?

We will answer, because it happens and we know it: no, you don’t. You become a Bloom if you rush into books like a bull and consume them by the bucketful. And, to be fair to the crooked, EVEN THEN YOU WILL.

* * *

And on the other hand, do we really need to be… Harold Bloom to express an opinion about one or another book, and about one or another category of books? Of course not! Anyone can do it. In fact, everyone DOES. Every day we see posts, “reviews” and opinions of people talking about books, either considering them masterpieces, or things that should have remained locked away in their author’s electronic drawer, at best. EVERYONE does, even (or: MOSTLY) even if they haven’t read this or that book. Although a handful of years ago such opinions were circulated in relatively closed environments, and thanks to Panagathos relatively isolated, now all you need to bring them to light, to make them somewhat visible to more people, is to have access to the internet. And, really, EVERYONE does.

A look at Goodreads is enough to see how even the “best” fashion novel, the best example of literary fiction of the year, let’s say, has a bunch of spineless readers who consider it an abomination: garbage. Not even classic novels escape the rule. Literally: EVERYTHING. Not even Homer is spared. Write down on a piece of paper the first ten classic texts that come to mind (even those that belong to the Canon) and look at the “reviews” with an asterisk. Either you’ll get your wings clipped, or—hopefully—you’ll have fun. But do it, it tastes good.

But if you really want to see what book longing, love of the printed page, bibliophilia, devotion, love metaphor is all about, take a moment and discover some passionate readers who have a channel on BookTube, that part of YouTube dedicated to in the book. You will get infinite material to pass the hours of your comment. You will feel truly uplifted.

Even when these people have celebrations that have names like GarbAugust: an event I enjoyed last month. Because my passion is trash.

* * *

If we have to do something (which we obviously don’t have to), it’s to weigh our modesty here and there. And we may remember that our “good” may be tar and mud in someone’s mind and life. And how our trash might be a balm for him over there. In fact, he may have taken a big step in his life by choosing to read a book – ANY book -, one that we never had the stature to do.

Not to repeat once more that the best-selling “popular” literature (women’s novels, crime novels, social and pseudo-historical) is the condition of existence of great and good books: without it, they would not exist.

* * *

A note on the term:

This particular word has a double weight because in our online times it has become a trend, since in the last months – maybe a little more – some users of the NKD use it rather more often than one can bear to describe a public figure, a political opponent in one word , or just another user, a trickle usually more famous, and get rid of him: so-and-so is “garbage”, so everything about him is tossed, finally, let’s move on. To put it as perhaps we all understand it: it is a word that has everything in it: disrespect, disgust, abhorrence, like “nigger” and “Jude” used to be and, in the 80s and again during the economic crisis, the “fascist” — which has recently returned for a third and probably not last time. But the “garbage” will not last as long as the others, precisely because it was built in the social funnel. According to them, the choice of the specific word by the friend was done in his absence. Our words are the world around us: they are the words of others. Many, we don’t even understand them, and we clearly don’t mean them.

The article is in Greek

Tags: Good literature throwaway literature

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