• Eros1982
    I was trying to read a Noble laureate writer a few days ago, and I gave it up within one hour. The writer was jumping from the life of one character to the life of another character, from the present to the past, and so on... and the questions that passed my mind were whether this kind of writing should be called art and whether the institutions (academicians) who give the various prizes of literature bother to ask if the awarded works are artworks. (If they do not bother with these questions, are their awards given just for market and political reasons?)

    In the case of poetry, plays, and non-fiction, it seems to me that it is more easy to give an answer whether they are artworks or not. To start with non-fiction, even the writers do not claim themselves to be artists. In the case of poetry, if it is too bad it means to me that something is wrong in its form and if you don't call it artwork, you don't call it poetry as well.

    Something similar happens with plays. Many writers of novels and movies fail to write/complete plays and they understand that without being told from others. Like in poetry, in plays everyone knows that they should have a form that makes them plays and if a writer cannot harmonize his work with a given form, he realizes that he has failed to have a play.

    However, in the case of novels and movies the answer does not come easily. The authors/producers of these works consider themselves artists. Awards, money and recognition are provided for their works, even when they lack tension, beauty, cohesion, or other elements which make something to be identified as artwork. The only element that seems to identify and unify these works is imagination. But it makes me wonder why should I call all novelists and screenwriters artists whereas all human beings possess imagination? Should not novels and movies, like poetry and plays, have some rigid elements which make them artworks? Should we call everyone an artist just because he has found a vocation and he uses some kind of imagination?

    Thank you.
  • Valentinus
    Matters of taste are things we are least likely to share. It is clear that you do not share the same criteria of excellence as has been expressed by the givers of these prizes.

    Why should I not accept this limit of what is appreciated by some people versus calling for standards where every judgment is correct?
  • Eros1982

    I think I can say who is a storyteller and who is an amateur, although the message of the amateur is more appealing to me than the message of the storyteller. In a few words, what I was trying to say is not only about taste, is about the condition of literature and screenwriting nowadays. We have come to a day where everything in literature and screenwriting is accepted if it is politically correct and it is authorial. We have all these academicians who will find something to praise in every possible "novel" and this praise seems to turn into a kind of artistic credentialing for the novel and what I am trying to say is that this happens in literature and movies more than in other arts. I see a kind of abuse toward our aesthetic feeling here, a kind of abuse that it is more hard to see in music, painting, poetry, and so on. Whereas in music, poetry and painting almost everyone has an opinion on what is agreeable and pleasant, in prose the opinion that matters mostly is what is the message and structure of the written piece --not its form, pleasantness, cohesion, tension and so on. What I am asking therefore is why should I call the writer an artist in a time where the evaluation of novels and short stories is based on criteria which differ significantly from the usual criteria people use in the evaluation of (other) artifacts?
  • Bitter Crank
    I read a lot, and I can fairly report that there are many fine examples of pure, unadulterated slop out there. Awful stuff. Just wretched. And some of it sells well and receives appreciative reviews. There is also a lot of excellent work, too.

    I pay little attention to literary prizes, whether it's from the Nobel, Pulitzer, Booker, or What Have You Committee. When one goes back and reads prize-winning novels from 60 or 80 years ago, many of them do not seem very interesting. Music doesn't seem to suffer from this problem.

    The best bet for identifying what kind of writing is really good is to take a look at what people are actually reading, looking at, watching, and listening to.

    400 years later, people still read or watch Shakespeare, and still listen to Monteverdi. There are a lot of people still reading Jane Austen and George Elliot 140 years later.

    How many of these best selling authors from 1933 do you recognize?

    Hervey Allen, Hasty Carroll, Sinclair Lewis, Lloyd C. Douglas, John Galsworthy, Lloyd C. Douglas, Mazo e la Roche, Bess Streeter Aldrich, Louis Bromfield, Hans Fallada? Zero? One? Two?

    How about these 21st Century Nobel winners?

    Kazuo Ishiguro Remains of the Day was clearly recognizable as a novel.

    Bob Dylan Dylan's poetry (at least from his early years) deserves some sort of prize; Nobel? Well, it's their money; they can give it to whoever they want, I suppose. They didn't give him a prize for singing, you'll notice.

    Svetlana Alexievich

    Patrick Modiano Started a recent novel by Modiano and dropped it. Tedious.

    Alice Munro I've liked some of her writing,

    Mo Yan
    Tomas Tranströmer
    Mario Vargas Llosa
    Herta Müller
    Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio
    Doris Lessing
    Orhan Pamuk
    Harold Pinter
    Elfriede Jelinek
    John Maxwell Coetzee
    Imre Kertész
  • Eros1982

    I have always considered Shakespeare a great artist, although I disagree with all those who depict him as a psychologist, philosopher, prophet, and so on (I find De La Barca and Machiavelli, who wrote plays in the 16th century... much more prophetic/philosophical than Shakespeare). In a few words, I disagree with Valentius' focusing a taste. I can say that the Taming of the Shrew artistically speaking is a great play, although I dislike its message.

    I do consider, also, Orwell and Dostoevsky great artists, although the academicians focus mostly on the political and philosophical implications of the works of these authors (leaving aside artistic elements, as the tension that both authors create in their novels).

    To conclude, what troubles me mostly is that in plays and poetry many people can define the artistic elements. But in novels it seems to me that it is hard to make academicians or the specialists of the field to agree on anything. I see sometimes critics of literature praising two novels for the very opposite reasons... and that confuses me about the artistic credentials of prose writing.

    Shouldn't there be some kind of agreement on what consists art in the case of fiction writing?

    I hope to receive more answers on this question, cause I really need to reflect...
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