Myths About Literature


I recently read a piece in the New York Times Book Section  that had me shaking my head. The subject of Bookends was “Is the Writer’s Only Responsibility to His Art?” The direction of this inquiry seemed obviously focused on the artist’s approach to his or her art (in this case literature) but the responses to the question clearly  misinterpreted it to refer to the other responsibilities the artist might have, to his kids or to some moral code imposed by society or religion.

The quotation is from that drunken rascal William Faulkner (watch the film Barton Fink for a fun fictional representation of a Faulkner clone).

Perhaps here is an opportunity to recall Parker’s Myths of Literature:

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A Reading List for Literary Explorers

Yes, this is yet-another-list but I am reposting it because the topic isn’t just good books to read but moreover it suggests many titles from that undefinable cloud known as classic literature. The list comes from and was posted by Adam Burgess, the Classic Literature Expert. I see some room for improvement in this list but overall it seems useful. I marked those titles I have already read (some sad little gaps): how well-read are you?

So here are 101 Classics To Get You Started:

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Should Reading Be a Pleasure?

It’s a old and tired controversy but an article from started me thinking whether this question was more an evaluation of our society rather than a specific relationship between contemporary readers and their chosen texts. For the record, I have always contended that a person’s chosen reading material is highly subjective: you should read what you want to read. But the analogy is to food, eating, and nutrition: if you want to eat cream-filled sponge cake loaded with preservatives and lacking any food value, it is your fundamental right … but so is getting fat and having your teeth fall out.

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