What is the purpose of great literature

Actually it was just about the new novel by Dave Eggers, who has probably provoked every conceivable reaction so far, from enthusiastic praise to the most thorough criticism. Some consider him sharp-sighted, others flat and superficial. Some complain about his simple language and flatly constructed characters, others don't consider the language to be decisive in this particular case. Most of those who feel the need to discuss 'The Circle' insert here and there almost apologetically: 'It's not much literature, but you can read it'. This also happened during a discussion with the coffee house owner Uwe Kalkowski on Twitter.

@ Literatourismus @ DanaresY @ citoyenberlin Not much literature, but a book worth reading and thinking about. http://t.co/C7HaEZJo3R

- Cafehaussitzer (@cafehaussitzer) September 11, 2014

This was justifiably followed by a question that literary critics, readers and book lovers have been gripping their teeth about since yesterday. Every now and then anyway.

@ cafehaussitzer @ Literatourismus @ DanaresY @ citoyenberlin I would like a definition for “great literature”. R-R is unfortunately gone ... - Ronald Dempfel (@Heimatfotos) September 11, 2014

It is likely that great literature is not a clear definition that everyone freely subscribes to, yes, of which everyone can know exactly what it means and what type of book it denotes. The coffee house owner threw outstanding language into the timeline as a criterion, which was too poor for me personally. Even if I am a great lover of beautiful language, it cannot make a great novel for me alone. It can actually comfort me for an unfortunate or uninteresting action, very well in fact. She can let me enjoy a book intensely because every word in the right place and every picture is so impressive that you wanted to read it over and over again. So it is undoubtedly a Criterion for 'great literature'. What else?

Great literature needs relevance. If the protagonists are largely concerned with discussing their home furnishings, hair color or choice of partner, this is undoubtedly justified, but of little relevance. One could also say: Little importance in human life in general, even if it is sometimes very important for the individual. I like it when literature uses its possibilities to astonish me, to show me new perspectives, to raise questions in me that also touch on "big issues" (justice, being human, identity, biography ...). In short: that allows me to step out of myself, to abstract from myself and my life. I not only read to recognize myself and to be enthusiastic about any similarities with my life - even if that's a nice side effect - I also read to get to know things that are not an elementary part of my life anyway. I am curious about almost everything and sometimes disappointed that I cannot know and understand everything. "Great literature" not only offers me great feelings.

'Great literature' challenges me - lets me think, draw my own conclusions and research. I read a good book or a short story with pleasure, without having the need to deal with any of the topics raised in the book afterwards. That is exactly the whole point of the entertainment novel. ,To have a good time‘, As the American puts it so succinctly. With 'great literature' I can also go through difficult times and emerge stronger from it. "Great literature" creates lively and authentic (!) Characters and stories, not decals or clichés. In addition, "Great Literature" stays in my mind for a significantly longer time on average, even with me. While I forget what I enthusiastically consume in a very short time, even in a very short time and can only call up a vague mood (“What was it about?” - “Uh, well, it played, uh, somewhere in America and uh, it was really exciting. ”), what I enjoyed intensely over a long period of time stays in my head for longer. And that doesn't even have to mean the reading time itself, because great literature does not always have a large number of pages. But the time I spend thinking about it, reading about it, engaging with it automatically solidifies the content.

What inevitably catches the eye when dealing with these personal criteria? There is not a lot of 'great literature'. There are many books of a similar style in which one or the other (language, history, conception) is outstanding. But that everything comes together and results in 'great literature' is not necessarily an everyday occurrence. But that's not bad at all. You can enjoy it all the more like a rare animal that you don't see every day. Who wants to eat spaghetti every day, even if it tastes great? ...

Uwe's contribution with the wonderful title, The crucial question with the ax ’can be found here. On her blog, buchpost asks the question, What is a classic? ’. Thomas von brasch & buch also inspired the discussion for an article -“ I'm too small for big literature ”.

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