The Literary Life



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September 2015
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I know that in these blog posts about literary taste for The Literary Life that I repeat myself often, that I ask the same questions again and again, repeatedly. But bear with me. Even if you feel comfortable with statements such as “Everyone has a right to his or her own taste in art or literature,” at least consider in that statement the complexities of the issues of taste.

For example, ask yourself this question: Is there any meaning to the concept of good taste beyond just generally accepted fashionable ideas, or generally accepted standards preferred by your social class?

Perhaps consider whether there is anything within a work of literature itself, within an object of art itself that bears out proper taste? Does the novel at hand possess qualities requiring taste? Not just because it might be difficult to understand but because of what it is? For example, is there anything inherent in Henry James’s Portrait of a Lady that expresses taste more than a comic book or a graphic novel?

Maybe not, but try this: Does a work of literature that derives from the mind of genius, accepted by generations as genius, require tasteful acceptance, though you might not really want to read it yourself, than a work written primarily for commercial consumption?

Ah! Now we’re working with the ideas of our time.

It’s getting late so I think I’ll go back with Jeanine and watch the news, but keep with me for the next blog post. Make comments. Re-blog. Follow A Literary Life. The more readers who are posting comments the better.

Paul Varner



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