1. sam80
    Offline

    sam80 Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2012
    Messages:
    38
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Hertfordshire, England

    literary snobbery - myth or fact?

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by sam80, Apr 8, 2012.

    So would anyone admit to literary snobbery

    Not because i want to be critical but i just dont understand it. Writers and would be writers hating the, how shall I say, less high brow books or even simply very mainstream or popular books. Even more so when they haven't read them and aren't will to give them a go... I know all tastes are different, the literary would be a very boring place if that wasn't the case, but i have found many to be condescending about such works. Never been able to understand why :confused:

    Is this true, or a minority case?
     
  2. heyitsmary
    Offline

    heyitsmary Member

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2011
    Messages:
    62
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Mississippi
    It definitely exists. Most of the people I went to college with are literary snobs, and I'm sure I've been guilty of snobbery a few times as well (though it's definitely not something I do often). It's human nature for us to put something down when we don't like it -- the thought process being "I don't see how anyone could see any good in this, so anyone who does must have something wrong with them."
     
  3. minstrel
    Online

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,724
    Likes Received:
    4,821
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    I don't really want to be a literary snob, but I've had to come to accept that I probably am.

    I spent my childhood and teen years reading genre fiction, mostly science fiction, but I eventually got interested in what my dad had in his bookcase. It was full of Steinbeck (his favorite writer), Hemingway, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, John Galsworthy, some Henry James, Nikolai Gogol, Anton Chekhov (I stole my dad's copy of Chekhov's short stories, and it's still in my bookcase about thirty-five years later), and on and on. I can't remember them all. I know he had volumes of H.G. Wells, and that helped me bridge the gap from science fiction to "literature."

    I found that I loved that stuff. The images were fresher, the themes were deeper, and most of all, the prose was better than that of the writers I had been reading. These guys could WRITE! I was excited by that. I'd been reading Shakespeare in my high-school English classes aloud - we students were required to perform the parts ourselves in class - and I discovered that I loved the rhythms and sounds of the language when it's written well.

    I started looking on my own for good writers and discovered Anthony Burgess, John Gardner, William Gass, and many others. I think of this process as almost like being a basic rock and roll fan who gradually develops a taste for classical music. I now find classical music beautiful because of its melodic and harmonic complexity. I love hearing the composer's ambition. I find the same attraction in literature.
     
  4. superpsycho
    Offline

    superpsycho Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2012
    Messages:
    638
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Peer pressure is a strung motivator. When you go to collage there is environment created to make you want to belong. They have had generations to perfect it. Developed out of secret trade and priestly societies. It used to be a matter of elite professions trying to keep their secrets. Now it's about stature to draw students and along with them money. If you don't act like the elite why would you want to belong. It's like today's club scene in Hollywood, Miami or New York. Exclusivity draws the glamor, attention and the big bucks. It also makes the clientele feel special. Doesn't mean there isn't some real good work in the classics but it also doesn't mean people have to look down on the other stuff either.
     
  5. The Tourist
    Offline

    The Tourist Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,089
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    Wisconsin.
    Think of all of the fun stuff you've read, watched or listened to as music. Lots of it was "popular, yet critics panned it."

    I had a good time at 'Cats.' Of course, the dowager behind me said she liked "Les Miserables." Just to let us know she was an insider she called the production 'Lay Miz.'

    Takes all kinds.
     
  6. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,351
    Likes Received:
    2,891
    Location:
    Boston
    It definitely exists, especially in the school system (at least here in America). Most of the literature taught here is literary/general fiction. Even the creative writing departments tend to produce writers who write literary/general fiction.
     
  7. sam80
    Offline

    sam80 Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2012
    Messages:
    38
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Hertfordshire, England
    Hey Minstrel, thats honest, good for you. Like I said, dont want to criticise just understand. Plus liking older works, or pieces that are considered by most to be more high brow does not make you a snob. Being unneccessarily condescending towards books you have never read and have no intention of reading because there 'below you' or to make yourself appear more intelligent or cultured is snobbery (i think).

    I totally agree Tourist. But saying that, I dont listen to critics. I mean I have a pretty eclectic taste, I really enjoy reading Dickens, Austen, and love Thomas Hardy's 'Tess of the d'Urbervilles' and Aesop's Fables. But I also enjoy Stephanie Myer, and consider one of the Harry Potter series one of my favourite books. I just like what I like. I would rather see if I am interested, read and decide for myself, if i agree with them, then so be it...
     
  8. art
    Offline

    art Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2010
    Messages:
    1,159
    Likes Received:
    113
    Look hard enough and you'll find snobbishness in every heart. Might not be about books. It might be coffee, or music, or hand-tools, or climbing gear, or bike brakes. Whatever. Not something to get excited about.

    I'm not a snob when it comes to literature but simply happen to think that fantasy is for kids; sci-fi is for big kids; romance is for the morbidly obese; and thrillers are for those who fail to see that a trip to the local shop contains wonders and thrills.
     
  9. art
    Offline

    art Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2010
    Messages:
    1,159
    Likes Received:
    113
    I imagine some techno-freaks even take a sort of snobbish pride in never having committed the crime of a double post.:)
     
  10. RowenaFW
    Offline

    RowenaFW Member

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2012
    Messages:
    68
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Birmingham
    Interesting topic.

    I love Classical books. Doesn't mean I like all Classics, but when I enter a book shop I always speed hungrily towards the Classics section. Mostly I can't even afford to buy a book - I'm just there whilst my OH's looking for a present. I just like to sit with the books.

    On the other hand, I can also read "easy" mainstream books, or "trash" - and really enjoy that too.

    I do dispise a lot of mainstream books. Not because they're mainstream and easy to read - but because if I don't like them people always try to press them on me anyway. They rave about these crap books and tell me I will love them if I read them. And when I don't, I must try their sequels, and other things by the author. So I suppose what I really dispise is the peer pressure to like a book or set of books I don't like in the least (usually one I have started and pit down). I have to become exaggeratedly anti-this-book in order to combat a common assertion that it is the best book ever, and actually have people listen to me. I do this with things outside books as well.

    I also find the "college" pressure comments odd, because I didn't encounter this at university. There was an AWFUL LOT of snobbery at Oxford, but I didn't encounter literary snobbery. What I did encounter was excitement to discover somebody who liked the same kinds of books as them (as though the other students expected to be sidelined for a more "highbrow" literary preference), scores of arts students who never read anything outside their syllabus throughout their degree, and film snobbery - which wasn't about highbrow films at all, but about fantasy films (I can't remember their names; not my thing) - the idea that you were sexy and geeky and cool if you liked these films and knew a lot of associated facts/terms, and you simply weren't good enough if you didn't.
     
  11. The Tourist
    Offline

    The Tourist Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,089
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    Wisconsin.
    If by 'critics' you mean guys who just like to snipe at folks for fun, I agree. I find an odd fact that pertains to them as a class--they don't know what they're talking about. Usually they're uninformed. The very thing they bash is something they know nothing about. Either that, or you're having too much fun and they can't stand it.

    Now, I like 'critics' when they sincerely try to help you. And let's face it, if we're working on a story we're going to get information that makes us do re-writes. It might be hard to swallow, but if it makes a better book, you suck it up and learn from it.
     
  12. sam80
    Offline

    sam80 Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2012
    Messages:
    38
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Hertfordshire, England
    very true tourist, very true.

    And Rowena I know what you mean. We all have genre's we prefer or are interested in and sci-fi doesnt float my boat (but i wouldnt pan it), or normally fantasy. But a few of my friends went on so bloody much about the twilight saga they really irritated me. I had no interest in reading fantasy teen books,vampire stuff just not my bag. But one very bored lonely housewife (hubby in afghan, kids asleep, writers block, nothing on TV) type night, made me pick up the copy they'd left me, and I loved it.

    Saying that, I am still pretty stubborn about reading genre's i'm not interested in even after that lol
     
  13. Just Jon
    Offline

    Just Jon Member

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2012
    Messages:
    66
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Slightly left of center
    Definitely exists. My son's friend is 13 and is a diehard literary snob. Oddly enough, he (the friend) is in a book club and outright refuses to read some of the books because he says he "cannot bear to drag himself through them".

    I agree with art in that there is probably some snobbishness in everything. Things we enjoy and delve into deeply, we often come to appreciate the finer aspects and push aside the more common or mundane. To be honest, I appreciate fine chocolate. I was once called a "chocolate snob" by the CEO of Omanhene Chocolate company. Somehow, I felt proud of that. :)
     
  14. RowenaFW
    Offline

    RowenaFW Member

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2012
    Messages:
    68
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Birmingham
    Strangely, I never get is this way. If I think I won't like a book, it might be bad or might be 'meh', but I never really like it. I can think books are 'meh' and love or hate them. On the other hand, sometimes I think a book sounds great and then I read it and detest it. 'The Go-Between', for example. Or 'The Woman in Black'.
     
  15. The Tourist
    Offline

    The Tourist Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,089
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    Wisconsin.
    Oh, so am I. I think vampire stories are crap. And I worry about very children and The Hunger Games. While you still cannot buy a real magic wand, a flying broom or a plasma rifle, any idiot can purchase and shoot a bow. With morality racing to the bottom, some idiot is going to shoot someone for the thrill. Remember 'Fight Club'?

    But I have come to the age of "been there, done that, invented half of it." Not much surprises me anymore, and less and less scares me. When I joined this fforum I knew I would be in the company of serious guys working on real books and I was going to hear things I did not want. That's life.

    I will *sample* a differing genre to be fair. But my tastes are somewhat entrenched. Thank your husband for me when next you speak to him.
     
  16. sam80
    Offline

    sam80 Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2012
    Messages:
    38
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Hertfordshire, England
    Thanks Tourist, he is back home sake in ol' blightly now, shouldnt go back for a year or 2.

    And i know what you mean about the hunger games.... My 8yr son began reading for pleasure as opposed to homework about a yr ago (so happy) and has now finished 'HP and the philosphers stone', he loved it, it captured his imagination... But some of his friends a yr or two older want to read the hunger games and there parents are wondering whether too or not. I certainly wouldnt personally, i dont feel its appropriate for children. I know of schools (primary schools) that have had to deal with pupils creating 'fight clubs' etc.
     
  17. The Tourist
    Offline

    The Tourist Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,089
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    Wisconsin.
    I'll tell you what I did. Maybe it's only one person, but that's how change starts.

    One of the baristas where I go is a younger woman, and resembles the actress who plays Katniss so much she braided her hair in the same fashion to attend the movie. She hunts with her dad, knows firearms, and owns a bow. She and her boyfriend look at going to The Hunger Games like I might watch a cartoon.

    I sell knives, and doing so I provide tactical knives for soldiers and police, and I sharpen. I sharpen knives for soldiers about to be deployed, and we all know that biscuits is not their goal. One of the companies I rep for is ESEE, and they make a "survivalist arrow tip." It's an ugly thing, made to be tied to an arrrow shaft or a spear, and it's primary function is to kill.

    I ran into that girl this weekend and told her I bought one for her. At first she was giddy, she now would own the very thing that Katniss used daily. I explained about this company to her, and what they made, and what the intended purpose was.

    I told her that I wanted her to carry the tip around for a few days, and then we would have this same conversation again. It's one thing to view movies as having no impact. It's another thing to hold the actual weapon.

    My guess is that after a few days, her opinion will change--dramatically.
     
  18. sam80
    Offline

    sam80 Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2012
    Messages:
    38
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Hertfordshire, England
    interesting..... definitely different way of making someone think about it.....

    hmmmm in the uk that would be illegal however lol. But i see where your coming from, dont necessarily agree, but see it all the same. When I joined up in '99 pre all this gulf war 2 and afghan deployments, we did weapons handling and rifle training we were all really excited to go on the range. We were taught to respect the weapon, and what it could do. Holding aiming and firing the SA80 was actually pretty scarey, I had real rounds and real people round me, that gave me a healthy dose of fear and respect in its self.

    And i hope your right :)
     
  19. Lemex
    Offline

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Messages:
    10,507
    Likes Received:
    3,151
    Location:
    Northeast England
    I hate to admit it but this is pretty much me as well.
     
  20. sam80
    Offline

    sam80 Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2012
    Messages:
    38
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Hertfordshire, England
    Hey Lemex, Like i said to minstel liking those kind of writers doesnt make you a snob. Are you mean to those who read the mainstream books because you feel those books are below you, that would would make you a literary snob, and kind of mean lol. There is definitely a difference, I like, Dickens, Austen and Hardy, but I am not a snob, I dont really like Shakespeare at all, in fact i find it boring, but that doesnt mean I am unintelligent.
     
  21. The Tourist
    Offline

    The Tourist Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,089
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    Wisconsin.
    That does trouble me. I think freedom is the best thing about America. A government should be afraid of its people, not the other way around.

    In a few moments I'm going to the gym. If I take my bike, I must break about five or six laws in the UK.

    For one, I mounted "Scream Eagle" pipes on my bike, I used a different factory computer download to enrich the fuel mixture--but you should see my really fast bike, the big one. I use stop signs as a "suggestion." I usually fold my license plate back, just because I don't care.

    I carry knives that lock open--I believe that's illegal in the UK--and I also carry assisted opening knives and switchblades if it suits my purpose. I'm licensed to carry a handgun, and I do everyday, now it's as common as carrying a hankerchief. But before it was legal I carried everyday because I was a bill collector. I got arrested for that in 1979, but it's a misdemeanor here. I got a stern talking to and a fifty dollar fine. My last speeding ticket was seventy five dollars, so you can see how seriously we take such inconveniences.

    We don't have to run from criminals here. We have 'stand your ground' provisions. My state has 'the castle doctrine.' Break into my home and you're toast. I won't even be held for questioning.

    LOL. Our food tastes better, and my teeth are straight...

    However, this Hunger Group nonsense is going to come back and bite us. I make these decisions because I'm an adult. Do the crime, do the time. Kids often bend to peer pressure too much. And I think the romance of weapons goes overboard. I did show this girl the hollowpoints I carry.

    I carry PMC Eldorado Starfires in +P .38 SPL. Go google that. Every kid should see it.
     
  22. Lemex
    Offline

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Messages:
    10,507
    Likes Received:
    3,151
    Location:
    Northeast England
    I don't consider mainstream books below me, exactly, but I don't read them with the care I do more sophisticated books. I can read something by Stephen King in a day or three, yet something of the same length by someone like Salmon Rushdie or Thomas Pynchon I'll happily spend more than a week on. And I love Shakespeare, but I can perfectly understand why some might not - however, I don't want to know anyone who doesn't find PG Woodehouse funny.



    I'm joking of course.
     
  23. AmsterdamAssassin
    Offline

    AmsterdamAssassin Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2011
    Messages:
    333
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Amsterdam, The Netherlands
    Literary snobbery abounds in the Netherlands - most revered writers over here are literary writers and most Dutchmen know their names, while they wouldn't know the names of national thriller/mystery/suspense writers. The only suspense writers they like are translated works, because the fact that it's important enough to be translated into Dutch gives it some seal of approval.

    Meanwhile, I've had countrymen ask me why I didn't write in Dutch. I've written about this on my blog, but I rarely tell them that I would be ignored as a suspense writer anyway, because it would make my response sound like sour grapes.

    Myself, I read anything that is well-written, regardless of the genre. And I don't follow popular opinion on what is regarded 'good' or 'bad' books.
     
  24. shadowwalker
    Offline

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2011
    Messages:
    3,299
    Likes Received:
    851
    I don't consider myself a snob. Like others, I'll read just about anything if I think it will be a good read or if someone I trust recommends it. I do tend to stay away from some genres simply because the subject matter overall doesn't interest me (or no longer interests me), but even then, if a trusted reading buddy says 'try it', I will. But it's definitely the literary 'masters' I will re-read, whereas only a handful of genre authors have gained that "privilege" :p Just thinking about that, I think in genre books I read to see what will happen, so re-reading isn't as interesting. But with literary books, it's more the prose that I love, rather than what's going to happen. So maybe the two set off different parts of our brains. Just rambling theories, there...
     
  25. sam80
    Offline

    sam80 Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2012
    Messages:
    38
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Hertfordshire, England
    Amsterdamassasin - do you find that frustrating at all?

    Tourist, ooh tricky points. There is issues here with the UK being a nanny state, and on some of those points I agree. I feel that society here has huge issues with self responsiblilty and accoutnability, always someone else to blame, and I feel that is in part the symptom of a nanny state. But neither would i wish our country to return to the days of the government ruling by 'laissez faire'. There is an inbetween. Stops signs being a suggestion for example.... or folding back your license plate (i'm guessing this obscures it) because I believe you should be able to be found and held accountable for you actions.

    As for gun laws etc, its a tricky issue, but dont you guys (by that I mean america) have issues due to a young man being killed in florida and the perpetrator not being held culpable?

    And no way is your food better, although your teeth are straighter LOL
     

Share This Page