Armchair BEA - Literature
I was taught that something is only literature (literatuur in dutch) if it follows three rules:
1 Art for the sake of art
Meaning that it shouldn’t contain a lesson, or meaning.
2 - Individualism
It should be about the most secret inner emotions of the author.
3 - Naturalism
The author should look at his/her characters as a biologist looks at an anthill and should not shy away from the banal things.
Not only do these three things contradict each other a bit in my opinion, it also makes for books with either really heavy subjects, or with more sexy times than an erotic romance (and those sexy time aren’t really sexy most of the time.)
I can tell you I didn’t really enjoy my required reading at school. A lot of Dutch Literature isn’t my cup of tea.
My preferred kind of books are what in Dutch is called ‘lektuur’. I’m not sure if there’s an English word for it. The closest the internet searches for a translation gave me is ‘reading matter’.
Lektuur is far removed from literatuur according to the rules I was taught. Literatuur isn’t written with the reader in mind, lektuur is. And according to some lektuur is worth far less than literatuur because of that.
I do not care!
Give me lektuur if that means it’s about zombies, werewolves, or any other cool Urban Fantasy or SciFi creature. If it tells a cool story that grabs me and takes me away to far off places, or places close by that suddenly are infused with magic and wonder.
Most probably there are books out there that are literatuur and that are beautiful and individualistic and naturalistic. And I’m happy they are out there, that there are authors who write them, and that there are people who love to read those books. And if such a book crosses my path I won’t avoid reading it.
But for most part I’ll stick to my beloved Urban Fantasy, Dystopia and SciFi. I’ll plunge into the worlds that the authors of my favorite genres write to entertain both themselves and their readers.
I think both literatuur and lektuur are important and even though I enjoy lektuur more than literatuur I won’t say one of them is better than the other. Both have value and have their own part to play.
How about you?