Yet Again Literary Standards – or Not

I don’t read Dan Brown, not because I don’t like his writing (which I’ve never read), but because I don’t really enjoy conspiracy theory novels as a rule.  Now there’s a clumsy sentence, such as the author of this article in the Telegraph would dislike.

The examples given are generally not great writing–from my perspective–but many, many people love Dan Brown’s writing and they buy his books.

I must confess that I find it humorous for literary elitists to criticize a book which has such an obvious following on literary grounds.  The problem is that deciding that something is “good” is not purely abstract.  It must be “good” for something in particular.

Thus Dan Brown is “good” in the sense that he entertains his audience and sells his books.  Tolstoy or Shakespeare are “good” in a different sense.  I actually have different standards for different types of reading.  What makes a good book that I read for fascination and intellectual enjoyment will ruin a book that I use for bedtime reading and recreation when I’m tired.

A majority of elitist criticism of literature seems to neglect this point.  They want to have a list of “good” literature and exclude everything else.  I don’t choose my reading that way, nor do most people.  Publishers use different criteria for different literature.

I believe that is as it should be.