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Elizabeth Moon on Literary Snobbery

We’ve talked about Literary Snobs before.

Here’s Elizabeth Moon’s take:

What literary snobbism does hurt is the public–people who are taken in by the ignorant assertions of “experts” who don’t even read what they claim to despise (or read it so carelessly that they might as well be reading a cereal box.) It hurts the students who think their natural taste for plots that are plots and characters who are interesting is the literary equivalent of original sin and must be excised before they’re fit to be called educated.

Anyone who thinks there’s no “complexity, depth, and originality” in commercial fiction needs an education. Anyone who thinks mysteries (or any other genre) are all “trashy” needs an education. (Start with Aristotle, whose _Poetics_ lay out the criteria. Continue through centuries of fiction that worked, up to the present day, being sure to take in multiple genres in each era.)

[via The Swivet]

About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

2 Comments on Elizabeth Moon on Literary Snobbery

  1. Why do we even NEED so-called “experts”? What the hell is their function, anyway?

    Books… literature or otherwise… are all about this simple series of events:

    Read a story.

    Enjoy it… or not.

    If you enjoyed it, read more by that author and/or of the same genre.


    How to “experts” and their opinions fit into that? Who are these people and why do we care what they think?

  2. joshua corning // August 18, 2007 at 1:31 pm //

    Well Moon is right in many ways…

    But lets not throw the baby out with the bath water…reviewers and critics of art provide a valuable service.

    A service I am happy to consume (mostly for free by the way) that hints and directs me to works that I might enjoy.

    In many ways the “experts” she describes are in fact simply reviewers and critics who enlighten people to a particular aesthetic.

    Where I think the real criticism of snobbery lies is not what collage lit grads choose as good and bad, this is just one niche, but in thinking that what fiction one consumes or does not consume somehow makes them superior. This sort can be found in any review circles and in any art criticism for that matter….ever talk to a hard core punk rocker? You would think that liking an ABBA song is the equivalent to eating children.

    That said if you like Hyperion you must be a mongoloid.

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