Monday, 26 May 2014

Armchair BEA - Literature

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.

So, yeah…
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?


Shaunesay Eslanai said...

I completely agree with you! Very interesting post, I'm not sure we ever really dove into the differences in my English classes, and I never took any deeper literature classes in college. I have always equated "Literature" with the classics, and with being boring in general I'm ashamed to say! I guess I need simpler, more direct and colorful language! ;)

Sullivan McPig said...

My moto is to never be ashamed of what you like to read. Most classics and 'true' literature aren't for me either, but luckily there enough other books out there.

Blodeuedd said...

I read what I want :)

Sullivan McPig said...

I'm with you on that! :-)

Carrie at In the Hammock Blog said...

I think i prefer lektuur too!! i love the pic!

Allison Bruning said...

Art for the sake of art
Meaning that it shouldn’t contain a lesson, or meaning.

That's an interesting point and could contradict great reads. A reader is always going to take something away from a book even if the author didn't intend of a lesson being presented. So how does that fit with the definition above?

Leeanna said...

I've never heard of lektuur, but it's just perfect! Thanks for posting about it.

West Virginia Red said...

I have this argument all the time with people, especially about children and reading. I am happy when my kids read. I care less about the what and more about the reading.

Sullivan McPig said...

Thanks for your comments everyone :-)
@Allison: it is indeed a bit contradictory imo.
@West Virginia Red: Yes! I think it's more important to let children read what they like. It will improve the chances of them becoming reading adults.

miki said...

lecture vs litterature ... i never thought they should be put against each other in my opinion as long as someone is reading , no matter what, it's a progress.
the titles we must read at school can drive us out of reading love.... i don't think the teachers are always mindful of their audience i mean we all have different taste but forcing children ( yes even at 14/15) to read dark, fataslist books isn't making them loving reading...;
i prefered my teacher who gave us direction ( read one novel, one short story etc) and then a list of acceptable title to pick from.... we could even make suggestion so we all picked what we were attracted to
( the teacher after nearly made me hate reading)

Sullivan McPig said...

@miki: I know what you mean. I have seen many classmates start to hate reading, because of the required reading. Dutch literature is not enjoyable for most teens. There was one book I hated back then, but looking back at it now, I think I would have enjoyed it when I had read it a few years later, when I had a bit more experience with life in general.

Aurian said...

I could not agree with you more Sullivan. I absolutely hated most books I had to read for school. Some still give me nightmares. And the one book I did enjoy, I was supposed to see the methapor, and read what was underneath the story. Yeah, no, I read a nice travel story.

fredamans said...

Meeting you through Velvet's blog, I was ashamed slightly, and saddened to see I wasn't already a follower. Well, that has been rectified. :-)