1 May 2012
Someone on a forum I visit asked: what makes a book Good Literature and what makes a book Great Literature? It got me thinking and I tried to distill my thoughts…..
Good literature is:
Grammatically correct or appropriate for character. Not repetitive, well chosen and crafted words/sentences. You can tell the difference when someone simply poured all their thoughts out on a page vs when someone thought and thought and edited until they honed their words down to the perfect combination. No trite writing, characters, or events
The world and characters created should follow the author own rules and not disengage the reader from the text.
Enough setting and detail to add depth but a quick enough plot to maintain interest
The events, characters, and/or author’s voice should stay with you and keep you musing over the book.
Great literature is all this plus at its center are universal human themes. Not themes that a limited audience can relate to such as: Single girl in the city. Rather themes that all people across nationalities, circumstance, and centuries can closely relate to and feel the Truth of.
I just finished the Hunchback of Notre Dame which is without a doubt a Great book. The themes that really stood out for me in this story were the outsider status of each of the characters and their helplessness with in Fate’s design. I really felt the chaos and hysteria of tiny humans as the massive force of history marched on.
What do you think? What makes Good literature vs Great literature?