Sur l'élitisme dans la littérature de genre

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Gromovar
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Sur l'élitisme dans la littérature de genre

Message par Gromovar » 14 septembre 2013, 19:33

Trouvé cette intéressante réflexion de William Mingin sur l'élitisme dans la littérature de genre (c'est un extrait de sa critique fort juste de l'Imago Sequence de Laird Barron sur le site Strange Horizons pour ceux qui voudraient le tout) :

In an essay published in Strange Horizons a few weeks ago, Matthew Cheney wrote, "Fiction remains fascinating when it refuses to offer easy answers to questions of fantasy and reality, history and imagination, dreaming and waking."

But every reader wants a level of complexity in the presentation of story that fits his own level of intelligence, taste, sophistication, learning, and experience. Many people—we can still speak about readers, though we should extend the discussion to movies and TV—want a plain tale relatively plainly told, where they can see without too much strain what happens, who the good guy is, and who the villain is. If you can fool them for a while, great, as long as you don't cheat and you eventually make everything clear.

In the spectrum of fictional complexity, "readers" of every level think those below their level naïve, unsophisticated, crude in their tastes, simpleminded, and those above it, elitist, pretentious, crabbed in their taste, and hyperrefined. And nearly all these "readers" naturally assume—or know—that they themselves, mirabile dictu, stand precisely at the Prime Meridian of taste, with all those anywhere else obviously off the mark.

Cheney's aesthetic, certainly in the field of popular fiction, is elitist, but then, the tendency of even popular fiction—at least, short fiction—is more and more in an elitist direction. Is it because we're getting smarter? Doubtful; certainly not in our ability to navigate the depth and complexity of an art constructed of words. Why then would stories grow, if not more complex, at least more obscure in lieu of complexity, a tendency exhibited in Barron's stories?

It's a commonplace that fewer and fewer people read for pleasure and entertainment, even popular fiction, and it's not hard to suppose that those who have dropped away first and/or in greater numbers are the less sophisticated readers. TV, movies, and games are their "books" (I do not mean to imply that everyone who likes TV, movies, and games is less bright or sophisticated than those who prefer reading.) As Nick Mamatas noted in a column in The Fortean Bureau, the "literary mainstream" is "misnamed because the real mainstream is television and video games; reading is a hobby for eccentrics and the self-lobotomized." Compared to the mass of the public, almost no fiction is very popular. In a nation of 300,000,000, the sale of 100,000 books can result in a "bestseller" (or for poetry, 2600 in a year, according to Harper's ["Harper's Index," October, 2007]); perhaps even fewer, according to Time. Current circulation figures for the "big" genre magazines would mostly have sunk such magazines as recently as the 1970s.

I suspect that the people to whom writing is merely a transparent vehicle for a story have more or less moved on, at least from short fiction, to other venues, while of the core who remain, many tend, like Cheney, to value complexity and ambiguity—relatively speaking, an elite. So it's no surprise if even popular fiction is shifting toward the kind of "literary" taste Cheney expresses. It may be that short fiction's (or eventually all written fiction's) future is mirrored by poetry's present: a more and more difficult and esoteric body of work with less and less appeal and reach.

The rise of elitist taste within popular literature—the first onslaught being, I suppose, the New Wave in science fiction in the 60s—has left us with a kind of split similar to that between fashionable and unfashionable, stylish and clueless, or even between various socioeconomic or cultural classes. In fantasy one marker of literary fantasy, slipstream, magic realism, or at the very least, upscale fantasy aimed at the more literary end of the market is that the fantastic is simply there, not introduced or explained, as if the explicit introduction of the fantastic as fantastic would be déclassé—crude, bumptious, or naïve. And the fantastic tends less to be embodied in an element or object than simply to be ambient.

Too simple, clear, explicit, and straightforward a narrative or story is also déclassé—since, of course, one of the necessary characteristics of "literature" is difficulty and obscurity. (That's why Toni Morrison is so much better a writer than Jane Austen or Willa Cather.) Some fantasy published in genre venues is otherwise indistinguishable from non-genre literary fiction published in literary markets, and The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, for instance, has for years drawn on small "literary" magazines as well as genre sources. That is not a bad thing, per se, and many applaud the softening, breaching, or "bending" (take your pick of terms) of genre lines. I note simply that such work tends away from being "popular" fiction and may confuse the hell out of those expecting trulypopular fiction.
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Re: Sur l'élitisme dans la littérature de genre

Message par Lhisbei » 15 septembre 2013, 18:49

Modération : les messages hors sujets ont été effacés.
Malheureusement, les progrès de la science sont souvent comme une hache dans les mains d’un criminel pathologique - Albert Einstein
Il n'existe rien de constant si ce n'est le changement - Bouddha

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Re: Sur l'élitisme dans la littérature de genre

Message par Gromovar » 15 septembre 2013, 20:45

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