GUEST ARTICLE: Defining Literature
Kicking off the first day of Armchair BEA with another fun post from Suey of It's All About Books, another member of our 2014 team. Read on and weigh in on her thoughts regarding the definition of literature.
To kick off Armchair BEA this week, we're asking everyone to post their ideas on all of literature as a whole. I'm assuming that when most people think of literature they think of the posh stuff... the high and mighty great works. The literary fiction that is sometimes written above some of our heads. The deep and moving, thought-provoking,lesson-
And it is all that. But it's so much more too.
I just read a book, The Rent Collector by Camron Wright, where the main character is charged with the quest to "find literature." She lives in a dump in Cambodia, but that does not stop her. She goes out and finds it anyway. She is told, "you'll know it when you see it" because at first this mission baffles her and she isn't sure what she's looking for. But it turns out to be true. When she finds it she knows. When she finds it, she is moved. When she she finds it, she deems it literature.
I asked my family how they would define literature and wow, what a debate that sparked! "It's any written word," said one. Another said, "it's the written word that stands the test of time." One pointed out that it's quite the subjective thing and one person can deem it one thing, while another person can feel it's something else. And both could be right.
As for me, I think literature is any written (or spoken even, with the potential to be written) word that moves the reader in any sort of way. Thus, it CAN be the deep stuff mentioned above, but it can also be the genre fiction, the YA and middle grade books, the picture books, magazine and newspaper articles, profound quotes written on the subway walls, song lyrics, and our own feeble attempt at writing. I feel it's the reader that truly makes the decision, not the writer, or the publisher, or the marketer.
Well, no matter the definition, I know that it's a good thing, this literature, and I love it. I will partake.
Suey has been blogging about books at It's All About Books for over seven years. She loves pretty much everything she reads including all YA, fantasy, classics, scifi, historical fiction, and non-fiction. Besides reading, she loves to get hooked on TV shows, drool over movies and blast music in the car. She's the mom of four big kids and has recently survived the weddings for two of them. Also, you may have seen her heading up Bloggiesta a few times a year.