Britain's first book blogger (November 2000)

Thursday, December 29, 2005

The usual literary fallacy

Edward Champion propagates Matthew Cheney's familiar opposition of literary and genre fiction; an opposition each reject. Does anyone else want to tell us this again? Both are perfectly correct of course, but only because they're also wrong. Yes, genre fiction is legitimate literature and should be reviewed with the same respect as academically-sanctioned, "serious" contemporary fiction. But keep this in mind: literary fiction is not literature.

UPDATE: Somebody does want to tell us this again!

4 comments:

  1. If it's a question of semantics (meaning "literary" as abstruse or literature-specific), then you win. But I don't think that's the specific definition that Matthew and I were using at all.

    Either way, I enjoyed the way you involuted the terms of the argument. :)

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  2. No, actually, I didn't want to say it again.

    I wanted to say that since neither SF/F or Literary works tend to read each other, then they end up repeating one another and have the misunderstanding that this is innovation.

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  3. Fuck. For some reason blogger borked that last post. It should say:

    I wanted to say that since neither SF/F or Literary works tend to read each other, then they end up repeating each other and have the misunderstanding that this is innovation, which in fact it's not.

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  4. OK Paul. Thanks for clarifying. I should clarify too. My point is that those novels mentioned by defenders of F/SF are not in fact literary novels. They are genre novels masquerading as literary, or at least presented as literary by journalists. Genuine literary fiction is impossible; see Roubaud's The Great Fire of London for example.

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