Thursday, September 8, 2011

Literary Blog Hop

Literary Blog Hop

The Literary Blog Hop,hosted by The Blue Bookcase is back and I'm very glad. Its a great way to meet fellow bloggers who are interested in literary fiction. This weeks question is:

Must all literary writing be difficult? Can you think of examples of literary writing that was not difficult? 

I don't think any writer sets out to write a book that is difficult to read. If they do, they shouldn't. I think the difficulty arises mainly due to archaic language, cultural differences and sometimes just complicated story lines. But all of this is highly subjective. Shakespeare's language takes some getting used to but his most enduring works are also his simplest which is why they lend themselves so well to adaptations and reinterpretations. Pearl S. Buck's characters and their choices may seem inexplicable and confounding to a modern reader but placed in their cultural context, they make perfect sense and are not difficult to understand at all.

The only difficulty that really slows me down is an overabundance of characters and multiple story-lines that one has to keep track of. However, if the story at the core is one that resonates with me and is engagingly told, I would never resent the effort I put into reading it.

I think works of Louisa May Alcott, Arthur Conan Doyle and more recently Jhumpa Lahiri and Alexander McCall Smith are all engaging and definitely not difficult to read.


  1. I completely agree with you! In the end it all depends on the setting and the time when the book was written. I also think literary writing has more to do with the quality of language than the level of difficulty! I haven't read anything by Jhumpa Lahiri, but I do agree with you on Louisa May Alcott or Arthur Conan Doyle; their writing certainly can't be called 'difficult'!

  2. I feel like archaic language and cultural differences are some of the top reasons people stay away from certain authors (Shakespeare is a great example) and yet they're also the things that are probably the easiest to overcome. Complicated story lines can either be worth it if, as you say, the core story is good. Or they can be an author trying to show off.

  3. I suppose that the point is with literary fiction, even if the writer hasn't set out to write something difficult, because of the nature of literary fiction it is going to pose more of a challenge that genre fiction. It forces the reader to really think about bigger issues and put real effort into the reading, rather than being pulled along just by the plot.

    This means that a piece of literary fiction may or may not engage you, but regardless I still think it will be more challenging.

  4. Well said. Thank you for these examples, too.

    Happily, I'm a new follower! And I hope that your blog title means that you studied Kafka in school and now teach kindergarten.

  5. Priya give Lahiri a try. She can do 'simple yet challenging' very well.

    Red very true. When it is just the author showing off, it is tiresome.

    Becky Challenging is good. What I meant by setting out to write something difficult is, as Red says, the author showing off.

    Deb Nance LOL.I fluctuate between my dusty tomes and my son's picture books. Hence the title :)