Originally Posted by Pulpmeister
What we have been talking about a lot here is genre snobs.
But what about intellectual snobs?
In UK there is a sort of intellectual snobbery related to class (always a key issue in UK), whereby the height of an imaginary reader's forehead is invoked.
High brow, middle brow, airport novels.
This is a form of class coding, I think. Highbrow books are read by public school old boys (and girls), university professors, and judges of literary prizes.
Middle brow books are read by lower-and middle-middle class people who "think they are reading Literature."
The rest read airport novels. Presumably they don't have brows.
I smiled. We still overwhelmingly think in these categories, but Dwight MacDonald would argue (as early as the 1960s) that they have been surpassed by what he called MidCult, or what I affectionately refer to as upper-middle-brow literature.
"In these more advanced times, the danger to High Culture is not so much from Masscult as from a peculiar hybrid bred from the latter’s unnatural intercourse with the former. A whole middle culture has come into existence and it threatens to absorb both its parents. This intermediate form—let us call it Midcult—has the essential qualities of Masscult—the formula, the built-in reaction, the lack of any standard except popularity—but it decently covers them with a cultural figleaf. In Masscult the trick is plain—to please the crowd by any means. But Midcult has it both ways: it pretends to respect the standards of High Culture while in fact it waters them down and vulgarizes them."