This blog hop is open to blogs that primarily feature reviews of literary fiction, classic literature, and general literary discussion.
How do I know if my blog qualifies as "literary"?Literature has many definitions, but for our purposes your blog qualifies as "literary" if it focuses primarily on texts with aesthetic merit. In other words, texts that show quality not only in narrative but also in the effect of their language and structure. If your blog focuses primarily on YA, fantasy, romance, paranormal romance, or chick lit, you may prefer to join the blog hop at Crazy-for-books that is open to book blogs of all genres. (Note: if your blog does not fit the above qualifications it may be removed from the Linky list. If you still don't know if you blog qualifies, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org)
I think Soy Chai Bookshelf qualifies, even though it's also about food and writing and Harry Potter. If you disagree… well, you can just eat my poo, can't you? I could e-mail them to find out but that seems ridiculously snobbish especially since I already know that I like literary fiction and that's good enough for me.
This week's assignment:
Answer the following prompt on your blog:
By now, I think it's pretty well understood that people like Jane Austen and Bram Stoker and George Eliot wrote "literature." Therefore, I'd rather talk about somebody who's still kicking that's also earned that lofty word. My first instinct was Margaret Atwood, but I think that three posts devoted to her in the last couple of months is enough, so instead I'm going to talk about Alice Munro, another brilliant Canadian writer, and her famed collection of short stories, The Beggar Maid.
The Beggar Maid is, unlike much of what we generally consider to be "classic," a collection of interconnected short stories. It can be read as a novel - the same characters appear throughout and grow as the stories progress - however, it is not a novel. Each story is complete in its own right and can stand alone and be read completely independently of the surrounding stories. The writing itself, one of the most important determinants of the term "literary," is powerful. Munro describes the mundane - a child stealing a bag of candy from her stepmother, a train trip, a first boyfriend - yet successfully makes these daily, relatively boring events come to life in her portrayals. Rose, the protagonist, is as real as you or I, with the same wants and desires and secret longings. Munro does an incredible job of making the quotidian captivating.
If you think about it, "literature" often portrays the daily lives of its characters; it's not about the action, but the people and the words. This generally makes it difficult to summarize: The Beggar Maid is about what? It's not about stealing candy or failed love affairs or a secret crush - that's not fodder for a book. It's about the human condition, what makes us us, the beauty of a word. The same can be seen in most of the great literature throughout history. Magic and guns and intrigue are all well and good, but it's the honoring of the individual and language that make literature what it is, and it's what Munro has done in The Beggar Maid.