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Old 07-17-2011, 08:28 AM   #51
Hamlet53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by taosaur View Post
I haven't had an opportunity to even start Bleak House yet, but I do find it an ironic selection for the "Literary" book club. Dickens was as general and "pop" an author as any who lived in his day, a one man industry analogous to Stephen King in our time. Yes, his works have become classics, but are they thus transmuted from mass-market commercial efforts into literary works? I gather Bleak House was one of his more ambitious and abstract works, but shall we read Stephen King's Rose Madder or Insomnia next? If Dickens lived today, he would probably be writing television.

I don't genuinely object to Bleak House's inclusion nor insist that we observe a more stringent definition of "literary." I'm just making the observation for it's own sake, really. At the time of their publication, Dickens' works almost certainly saw more attention in book clubs of the sort from which ours diverged than from serious critics. Perhaps it can be a talking point for the discussion: is this a genuinely literary work, a commercial work, a self-indulgent departure by a popular author with an established reputation, or other?
Quote:
Originally Posted by fantasyfan View Post
Quite true. {and I'm all in favour of TV adaptations of Dickens.}

But does popularity and commercial success mean a work can't have genuine literary stature? Shakespeare's plays were quite successful and most of them are still acknowledged as being great--and in some cases--supremely great works. I think the same applies to the works of Dickens. He was certainly a populist author and a man of his times who knew what his readers wanted and made sure to give them what they desired--no doubt about that. But he could also transcend his times and create works of enduring quality.

IMO I think that no transmutation is involved. They are what they are because of intrinsic literary merit.
The time to settle the question of whether or not Bleak House represents a literary book, and whether it satisfied the following monthly criteria was during the nomination period and vote.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sun surfer View Post
The category for this month is:
Highly Challenging (especially difficult or long works we may be hesitant to choose otherwise)

I seem to recall that there was a brief heated discussion on this topic, though not about Dickens, and Stephen King's The Stand was nominated. It just did not received enough additional endorsements to even make it to the vote. I don't know what alternative there would be to just leaving these selections up to the popular vote. That is unless Sun Surfer would like to take on the unenviable task of tossing out nominations that are deemed not literary enough.

I have my own opinion, already expressed somewhere else in this Reading Recommendations forum, as to whether or not Bleak House met all criteria. However, it was chosen, I read it, enjoyed it as I have most of Dickens' works, and will participate in the discussion.

Anyway thank you Fantasyfan for volunteering to lead the discussion.

Last edited by Hamlet53; 07-17-2011 at 08:52 AM.
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