Monday, March 30, 2009


Laura Mandell's Theory of Literary Art (In An Insufficient Nutshell):

There's genre. And what we know about the history of the genre that is the "novel" is that it originated in the 18th century. Novel genre is formulaic. Formulaic fiction. And then, of course, there is the canon (of great literature). But has the canon been blown apart? Theoretically, yes, it has. Now there exists an array of ethnic and minority literature studies. The "great literature' has, put simply, been supplanted by cultural studies. Laura thinks, however, that there does exist "great literature" and that the canon has undergone too much deconstruction.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty." This raises quite a few questions. Do we love authors because we love ourselves? When we read a text, fall in love with a text, and admire that text, is it because we see ourselves, our thoughts, in that text? What does this say about the self? The individual? How does this complicate notions of great art and great artists? It seems to me that great art and great artists do indeed exist. I believe in works of beauty, in works of genius. In the same breath, I also advocate the diversity of genius. I believe that genius can exist outside the canon. I believe that Ramona from Greenwich Village may recognize a different genius than Gerard from Dijon. I have no qualms with bardolatry. To each his own, is what I say. But I do, and earnestly, resist the exclusiviy of bardolatry.

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