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  1. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    What is being a literature snob?

    Discussion in 'Debate Room' started by Lemex, Aug 28, 2014.

    What is literary snobbery? Is it merely saying a book is terrible, and if you do so are you also looking down on people who like that book?
     
  2. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    For me, it is forceful rubbing of the nose, more than anything. Insistence that something is 'high brow' and ridiculing everything else. Having a closed mind for other people's perspectives (ie. not everyone considers 'Finnegan's Wake" their idea of fun and cosy read on a rainy Sunday) and similar. And even if something is mind-numbingly stupid and shouldn't even be called literature, calling out everyone who likes it equates to pointing out to them how dumb and unsophisticated they are for liking it. General obnoxious behaviour goes with snobbery, basically.

    Simply stating something isn't good in our opinion, argumenting it and agreeing that tastes and needs differ, is not snobbery, imo.
     
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  3. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    What is an art snob? How can you be a snob about something so speculative?

    I think it is one thing to like something more than another; it is ignorant and conceded to place your opinion over another.

    There are, however, certain concrete rules that a literary critic can rule as right or wrong: grammar, syntax, and spelling for instance.

    Me being a chef, I can tell you if a dish is prepared correctly or not according to specifications, but if you prefer your cream sauces broken, what am I to do. On the snobbery part, how pretentious could I be if I only ate golden caviar, AA foie, prime Akaushi, etc. Fuck that. Give me a good chicken fried steak with cream gravy any day.

    Puh-lease. I only drink 2000 Chateau Margaux. Take that $10 Australian GSM away from me, you peasant.

    To end my pre-coffee ramblings:
    Yes, I think you can say one thing is technically superior to another. No, your opinion does not trump mine.
     
  4. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    Constant references to the unreadable "classics" like Ulysses and everything by Thomas Pynchon does it for me, as well as people who obsess over obscure, untalented authors because their work once appeared on a university course's required reading list (and the authors are usually "women of color").

    The only snobs more annoying than literature snobs are music snobs, whose adoration of half-assed musical groups who no one has ever heard of (and whose names they invoke at every possible opportunity) borders on fetish.
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2014
  5. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    A snob is someone who says things like "This imported Bouche du Poitou goes wonderfully with my 2000 Chateau Margaux."

    I'm not sure what the literary equivalent would be.
     
  6. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    I only read Proust while wearing my Vicuna wool shawl.
     
  7. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I must admit I do enjoy Thomas Pynchon, and did enjoy reading Ulysses, for the most part.

    Making constant references to them is surely the sign of a snob, especially when that person clearly does not understand Ulysses - I'll admit I did not understand Ulysses well at all, and I see why it would not have appeal to a general reader. I have been called a snob for admitting that, but to be this does not mean I am a snob. I certainly do not look down on people who could not read Ulysses, and if I looked down on people who did not understand Ulysses I would be a hypocrite. Nor do I consider Ulysses to be the greatest work ever written either. I've been called so, but I do not feel this attitude makes me a snob.
     
  8. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    While I agree with most of the comments so far, I'd say there are a lot worse things than being a snob.
     
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  9. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    We're not snobs; we're just better than you.
     
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  10. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I think Ulysses and snobbery get mentioned together because a large number of people pretend to understand it and try to show off how much they "know." People who have studied it and really understand it don't, from my experience, ever really talk about it or constantly reference it. And they definitely don't look down on people for not having read it. It's really the group I mentioned in the first sentence that causes people to associate books like Ulysses with snobbery. If you think about it, Ulysses is like the quantum mechanics of the literary world; a lot of people think they know what they're talking about, but they don't. :p
     
  11. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    One can make themselves a snob or be labeled a snob by others. Maybe snobbery is associated with people who like the finer aspects of life that, for most people, are or will always be foreign or unattainable.

    Like I stated in another post, "Bud Light is the most popular beer in the US. Does that make it the best?" When somebody stands up and explains how they enjoy a Rochefort 10 and how they enjoy how different hops bring a depth of flavor to the craft...Or, if you hear a Speyside fan arguing with and Islay fan about peat...Yeah, the bud light crowd is going to call you a snob and you're going to accept that label because you'd rather not drink than imbibe that piss.
     
  12. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    There are some books that have a reputation of being 'elite books', or stuff elitists like to brag they understand when they do not. Ulysses is one of them. Dante is another - I do make reference to him a lot, I know, but I have studied him in depth, and he is the focus of my undergraduate dissertation. It's unfortunate, but hardly a secret that people like to say they admire writers they haven't actually read.
     
  13. Empty Bird
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    Empty Bird Member

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    It has nothing to do with what you read- but has everything to do with how people talk about it.

    I think people who speak about books like they're some sort of scientific excercise and- "Oh, daaaaarling, did you not simply adore the iambic pentrametre of this stanza? This poet is simply maaarvelous. What? You don't know what iambic pentrametre is?"- cue pressing of mouth into sympathetic smile- "You poor thing."

    Basically, anyone who thinks they know more about a book than anyone else; know more about a poet, their inspiration, where they lived, their husband, wife, pet cat, old car and lets face it-

    -they know so much about the poet that they probably believe they are the poet.

    But worst, worst of all- anyone who reads literature just for the sake of saying they've read it. People who read to rub it in someone else's face.
     
  14. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Iambic pentrametre? What's that?
     
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  15. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    A snob judges people for their tastes. Nothing more, nothing less.

    A literature snob judges people for their taste in literature. Simple as that.
     
  16. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Exactly. Imagine you meet someone reading Twilight. You're free to not like the book, but to treat the reader as if he/she were a simple, deluded idiot for not reading something like Dickens or Voltaire is a literature snob.

    Judge the books, not the people reading them. Though to be honest, I don't care if you like reading Twilight. I might not read them, but if you enjoy them then who am I to tell you that you can't?
     
  17. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    To be honest, I didn't think Twilight was as bad as it's reputation would suggest.
     
  18. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    So if I judge for you liking twilight and then judge me a snob for judging you, aren't we really the same, excepting the important fact that you like twilight and I don't?
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2014
  19. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    If I'm minding my own business reading Twilight and you come to me and judge me for it, yes I will consider you a snob.

    Now if you came up to me and asked me how I thought of what I was reading, I wouldn't think you a snob, I'd assume you were just wondering how I felt about it.

    The former is you making up your mind that I am one way or another. The latter is you allowing me to tell you my own opinions of the book.
     
  20. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Umm, no? There is a pretty simple and obvious logical reason why that is false:

    Disliking Twilight is an expression of literary taste. Judging someone for liking Twilight is not an expression of taste.
    Snobbery is judging someone for expressing literary taste.
    Therefore, judging someone for judging someone for liking Twilight is not snobbery.
     
  21. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    You can split hairs all you want, but it's two people at odds because one of them feels the other inferior, but the judging is mutual.

    If somebody tells me Harry potter changed their life, and that person is an adult, I promise you I am going to judge that person, and unless that person's circumstances are exceptional, I'm going to be judging them unfavorably.
     
  22. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    @123456789 Saying I am splitting hairs is just a way to ignore the logic.

    The feeling is not mutual. Person A thinks person B is inferior for liking Twilight. Person B does not think person A is inferior for disliking Twilight. Person B thinks person A is an unpleasant person to be around.

    Also, you are a snob, but I guess you have no problem admitting to it. This is me, judging you: :wtf:

    Snobbery has an element of prejudice. Let's consider something that's an even bigger target of snobbery than Harry Potter: My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. I love watching that show and reading fanfiction. I would even say it changed my life. It changed several of my ways of thinking and it introduced me to many great things. But it might interest you to know that it is not nearly one of my top TV shows. That list contains titles like The Wire, Breaking Bad, Arrested Development... you know, the shows that annoying TV snobs typically worship. See, I recognize quality, and more importantly, I recognize how it is and is not important. And because I have analyzed such a wide range of TV shows in such great depth, I would not be surprised if I know much more than you about quality TV.

    Instantly disapproving of someone who enjoys or is influenced by something you prejudge as "low quality" at best sets you up to be embarrassed when you are proven wrong about the person and at worst alienates you from someone who could have been a positive influence to you.

    That is the essence of why snobbery is bad.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2014
  23. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    So basically hipsters?
     
  24. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Also, I would disagree with the Bud Light crowd. Caring about enjoying the best craft that you can find does not make you a snob. Scoffing at people who do not care about the same things you care about would make you a snob.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2014
  25. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    For me it's an active disdain for (fill in the blank) type of literature, those who read it, etc. This is not the same as not caring for or not enjoying a particular flavor of literature. Were that the case, there would be no need for such a term because it would describe every last one of us. Nonetheless, I would hazard that most of us are literary snobs to one degree or another. I personally own up to a disdain for typically "high-brow" literature as self-absorbed and pretentious. Blahblahing about it is peacock puffery at best, script-reading over wine-one-pretends-to-like at worst. There's my admission. *shrug*
     
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