This week’s food for thought at Booking Through Thursday
When somebody mentions “literature,” what’s the first thing you think of? (Dickens? Tolstoy? Shakespeare?)
Do you read “literature” (however you define it) for pleasure? Or is it something that you read only when you must?
being the bookish sort that i am, i first turned to my trusty webster’s dictionary to determine how the master defined this word. here’s what he had to say~
“the class of writings distinguished for beauty of style or expression, as poetry, essays, or history, in distinction from scientific treatises and works which contain positive knowledge; belles-lettres.”
belles-lettres. i love that term, don’t you?
certainly Dickens, Tolstoy and Shakespeare wrote “beautiful letters” – but so did Fitzgerald, Steinbeck and Woolf, and so are Tyler, Russo, and Ford. library and bookstore shelves abound with works “distinguished for beauty or style of expression,” produced by pens (and keyboards) from every century.
what sets some works of literature apart from others, i think, is its staying power, its ability to leave a lasting impression on the reader, one that crosses centuries and societies. so certainly the “classics” -the Austens, Brontes and Hardy’s- possess that quality. as do many of our more contemporary “literary” authors, like Faulkner, Hemingway, Cather. as for the classic lit-ra-chur that will emerge from the 21st century – well, we must wait and see for that.
beautiful letters – and i read them all with great pleasure.