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Elias Graves
05-20-2011, 12:08 AM
My wife says I was born in the wrong century. :)
Starting way back in high skool, I had a teacher who taught Plath with such passion I couldn't fathom. That began my long road to a general dislike for 20th century literature. Pardon me momentarily while I paint with a broad brush. 20th century literature just flat leaves me cold. There are exceptions, of course, but the general trend of modern literature is one of a love/hate of self. The literature revolves around ME, MY didtrust for authority, tradition, faith and anything generally positive. I know, I know, that's not true of all modern literature, but it is the general trend.
My lit profs in college, of course, tried their collective best to get me to change my ways but to no avail. I found their preaching about open mindedness juxtaposed against their reactionary vitriol towards my beliefs rather hypocritical and I probably dug my heels in more than I should have.
My general attitude toward art in all forms is that it exists to show us the ideals, the beauty and the possibility of what CAN be. It needs to inspire me to something better. I've lived my whole life believing that cursing the darkness only gives one a sore throat...in the dark. If you want light, you better get off your butt and build a fire. I can get doom in the newspaper...don't need it for my art.
My profs, of course, ran through the usual points about how artists are now free to express their pain where in centuries past it had to be couched in other forms. That I was not enlightened enough to see the wisdom of modern forms. That humanity in modern times faced existential threats never before seen and our collective reaction to those threats must be documented and explored.
Humanity faces nothing it hasn't faced since we crawled out of the caves. Black death, anyone? I'd say having one third of your town mysteriously dying is a pretty grave threat.
Anyway, the point of this thread is not to inflame. I understand most of you like modern literature and I'm not calling you names for doing so. I'm older now and perhaps my perspective has changed enough for me to look at this with fresh eyes.
Explain to me why Sallinger is superior to Shakespeare or why Pynchon trumps Chaucer. My ears are open and I await enlightenment.

EG

Lavern08
05-20-2011, 12:13 AM
Welcome to the boards, EG. :welcome:

Ummmm,

Have you ever heard of the paragraph? :D

Elias Graves
05-20-2011, 12:17 AM
You try typing all that with a Blackberry. :o

EG

Lavern08
05-20-2011, 12:18 AM
Ok, all is forgiven. :poke:

Elias Graves
05-20-2011, 12:19 AM
Not gonna take a stab at it? What am I missing?
Why do I cringe every time I try to read Sallinger?

EG

mirandashell
05-20-2011, 12:21 AM
You did a good job! LOL!

But as for an answer, I really don't have one. Taste is a matter of opinion. You like what you like. Why the need to defend it?

Elias Graves
05-20-2011, 12:22 AM
It's weird. I can read L'Morte D'arture, Beowulf, Poe, Whitman, whatever and just eat it up.
The moment I crack open some tale of self discovery that leads nowhere, I'm cold.

EG

Matera the Mad
05-20-2011, 12:23 AM
*snerk*

I have read very little of the "modern classics" for pretty much the same reasons. Boring, presented with assumed authority, stuffed down my throat in school, irrelevant to my life.

And I never wanted to write like that.

Good stuff if you like it, I guess.

Lavern08
05-20-2011, 12:24 AM
Ok,

I'll take a stab at it:





My wife says I was born in the wrong century. :)

Starting way back in high skool, I had a teacher who taught Plath with such passion I couldn't fathom. That began my long road to a general dislike for 20th century literature.

Pardon me momentarily while I paint with a broad brush. 20th century literature just flat leaves me cold. There are exceptions, of course, but the general trend of modern literature is one of a love/hate of self. The literature revolves around ME, MY didtrust for authority, tradition, faith and anything generally positive.

I know, I know, that's not true of all modern literature, but it is the general trend. My lit profs in college, of course, tried their collective best to get me to change my ways but to no avail. I found their preaching about open mindedness juxtaposed against their reactionary vitriol towards my beliefs rather hypocritical and I probably dug my heels in more than I should have.

My general attitude toward art in all forms is that it exists to show us the ideals, the beauty and the possibility of what CAN be. It needs to inspire me to something better.

I've lived my whole life believing that cursing the darkness only gives one a sore throat...in the dark. If you want light, you better get off your butt and build a fire. I can get doom in the newspaper...don't need it for my art.

My profs, of course, ran through the usual points about how artists are now free to express their pain where in centuries past it had to be couched in other forms. That I was not enlightened enough to see the wisdom of modern forms. That humanity in modern times faced existential threats never before seen and our collective reaction to those threats must be documented and explored.

Humanity faces nothing it hasn't faced since we crawled out of the caves. Black death, anyone? I'd say having one third of your town mysteriously dying is a pretty grave threat.

Anyway, the point of this thread is not to inflame. I understand most of you like modern literature and I'm not calling you names for doing so. I'm older now and perhaps my perspective has changed enough for me to look at this with fresh eyes.

Explain to me why Sallinger is superior to Shakespeare or why Pynchon trumps Chaucer. My ears are open and I await enlightenment.

EG

:tongue

Elias Graves
05-20-2011, 12:27 AM
You did a good job! LOL!

But as for an answer, I really don't have one. Taste is a matter of opinion. You like what you like. Why the need to defend it?

I became accustomed to defending my views in college. Every teacher I had wanted to know why I couldn't see the wisdom in questioning norms. I tried to explain that it's not the norm questioning, per se, that I have a problem with, but the approach taken.
To me, if you want me to toss my beliefs, you should offer something better in place...not just questions.

For years, I just kept my opinions to myself, however, I was recently cornered in a conversation and pressed.
This got me thinking that if views on modern lit are so widely held and valued, I must be missing something. For the life of me I can't find the appeal.

EG

leahzero
05-20-2011, 01:03 AM
My general attitude toward art in all forms is that it exists to show us the ideals, the beauty and the possibility of what CAN be. It needs to inspire me to something better.

I think you answered your own question.

Art is individual. Subjective. Personal.

What you want and expect and get from art is not the same as what I do. Or duder in post #3. Or random guy walking down the street, eating a popsicle.

Focus on the art that you enjoy, for whatever particular little reason you enjoy it, and don't try to impose your own values and proclivities on others. Obviously a great many people find enjoyment and worth in modern art (be it literature or otherwise).

And no, I won't explain why Salinger is yabba-dabba or why Pynchon is dabba-do. No artist "trumps" any other. The only trumping is your preference for X over Y, while I prefer Z.

Vito
05-20-2011, 02:47 AM
I won't explain why Salinger is yabba-dabba or why Pynchon is dabba-doo.

http://www.mentalfloss.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/07/435_flintstones.jpg

mscelina
05-20-2011, 02:56 AM
What exactly is the purpose of this thread then? To debate individual tastes? That seems like a waste of time, quite frankly, particularly since I don't believe I've ever heard anyone claim that Salinger trumps Shakespeare.

However, if you take a 20th century lit class, you should be prepared to encounter an instructor who's made that his/her specialty, and who hopes that his/her love for that era of literature will inspire love in the breasts of the poor English majors slumping in the chairs in the classroom. And, vice versa.

I think you're generalizing here. The instructional priorities of educators do not necessarily gel with the opinions of an international community of writers--and it's rather silly to assume that they would. So I see no purpose for this thread at all, really. If you just want to start a thread that's entitled "Salinger sucks" go ahead--I'm sure there are hundreds of AWers who will agree with you. And hundreds more that don't.

*shrug* In such a fashion do personal tastes dictate our choices in literature.

Caitlin Black
05-20-2011, 03:09 AM
I've never really read the modern classics, nor the older classics, so I won't comment.

Underthelivingmoon
05-20-2011, 03:14 AM
You did a good job! LOL!

But as for an answer, I really don't have one. Taste is a matter of opinion. You like what you like. Why the need to defend it?

So true. My mom has always said to me 'Take ten pieces of something you created (stories, paintings, etc) and show them to someone else. Usually the one that you hate the most is that person's favorite.' It's so odd to me...

I agree with the original poster though-- alot of the classics that I was forced to read in school I found dreadful and wondered how these authors got published. I feels that same way when I got to the art museum and see paintings of circles or cubes that are worth thousands. I just look at them thinking 'I could have painted this in a hour with a box of poster paint and this is worth $20,000. Awful.)

I will take a well-written tale by a virtual unknown over a famous author who we are told that we are supposed to like anyday. Don't get me wrong- I like some classics but I don't like being force-feed them. If you like a particular author or work, someone will always want to debate you on it- best just to agree to disagree. Read what makes you happy. :)

JoNightshade
05-20-2011, 03:16 AM
Well, you're not in college anymore. This is the real world where people just read whatever the heck they want. Go forth, be happy.

Medievalist
05-20-2011, 06:26 AM
Explain to me why Sallinger is superior to Shakespeare or why Pynchon trumps Chaucer. My ears are open and I await enlightenment.

EG

Yeah, no one with sense--and not lit prof I've ever had, worked for or worked with would make those claims.

I fell in love with Medieval English lit and language in my teens. I knew I wanted to be a medivalist; later, I discovered Celtic languages and literatures and became smitten all over again.

I like some Pynchon; Crying of Lot 49, for instance. But I've had to read and teach a lot of authors that, were I not required to, I probably wouldn't.

You can learn to appreciate without having to love. And while I might like Chaucer much better than D. H. Lawrence or Henry James, I am not about to assert that Chaucer is "better."

thothguard51
05-20-2011, 08:08 AM
Taste is subjective...

Yeshanu
05-20-2011, 07:25 PM
I've read a lot of "50 Books You Must Read Before You Die" type lists, and Catcher in the Rye is on every one of them.

Here's my response (http://buildinganawesomelife.blogspot.com/2011/05/books-i-almost-read.html). Or, in a single word, yuck!

Which is not to say I dislike everything written in the 20th century, or even all of the "classics" written in the 20th century. Because if I did that, I wouldn't like Tolkein, and that's just wrong. :D