First there is this from The Writer's Almanac:
And there is this personal postscript:
This brief article about dime novels and pulp fiction has me thinking again about the real and imagined differences between popular and literary fiction. More to the point, avoiding complicated literary criticism that is involved in the matter, I wonder why some people look down their noses at certain types of fiction and come across as snobs in their celebration of literary fiction. And here is the big problem for me: I confess to being a pathetic schizophrenic reader in that I have at times embraced the "guilty pleasures" that come with reading popular fiction, but at the same time I have been guilty often of being one of those insufferable snobs who pontificate on the merits of literature and the defects of popular fiction; perhaps my M.A. course of study was part of my psychiatric downfall because I think I was quite effectively and irredeemably brainwashed by the snobs in academia. Well, I need to stop going on and on about my schizophrenia about popular and literary fiction, a condition that is not likely to be cured during my lifetime (i.e., on any given day I might either embrace or denounce popular fiction -- witness my recent posting on the Sherlock Holmes stories -- and then I might declare my exclusive commitment to certain literature -- witness my past postings on the Bible, William Shakespeare, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, and Flannery O'Connor).
So, ending my incoherent babbling, I invite you to discuss your ideas about popular and literary fiction. So, what do you think?
Because of a discussion about Victorians and crime fiction at Margot Kinberg's fine blog -- Confessions of a Mystery Novelist -- I have just succumbed to an impulse, and I have downloaded a Kindle copy of Robert Louis Stevenson's "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." This is one of those stories that seems to me to bridge the gap between popular and literary fiction. But enough about Jekyll and Hyde for now. Perhaps I will return to discussing it later.
And speaking of popular v. literary fiction, Charles Dickens is a fascinating example for both sides of the argument. Today, it is worth noting, is the anniversary of his death. Read more about him via this Wikipedia link. And further complicating my reading plans -- always subject to change, even more frequently than most people change their socks -- I have also just downloaded a complete Kindle collection of Charles Dickens's work. Perhaps I will be reading and discussing Dickens in the future. Perhaps.