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Monday, January 28, 2013

A Definition of 'Good' Literature?

Today I am pleased to publish my eighth guest blog post. You too can have a post published on my blog. Just read the guidelines HERE. In the meantime, enjoy...

A Definition of 'Good' Literature?
By: Dani J Caile

When I first started writing there was a tiny gnawing inside my head – no, not a parasite – as to whether my work was ‘good’ or not. It’s one thing to write but it’s another to know if it’s any ‘good’. Are all the anti-social hours of solitude and brain-raking worth it? Of course, there are many who would flatter you and say how fantastic your writing is, but can you be sure? Is it really up to a publishing standard? Are they just being nice to you? So, after writing a few books and suffering from a lack of interested readers, I tried to get to the bottom of just what exactly ‘good’ literature is.

My first task was to find some definition of ‘good’ literature. There is none. The dictionaries only state that literature is writing with some recognized artistic value’. But who does the recognizing? It all sounds so subjective...and it is. There are thousands of institutions and organizations world-wide who award prizes for good’ literature, and the most recognized among them would be the Man Booker Prize and the Nobel Prize for Literature. Each have their own committee of judges with their own subjective criteria of awarding their prestigious prizes, with the Man Booker Prize given to "the best, eligible full length novel in the opinion of the judges." To say that both systems are fraught to individual and group subjectivity is an understatement, even without the accusation of outside influences.

At the first obstacle, I had hit a dead end. Perhaps there was no way to find out whether I had a Jules Verne or a Samuel Wesley on my hands. When I thought all was lost, I suddenly remembered one session at college where we were shown a tool on the internet, one for concordance, and I instantly started searching. It didn’t take me long to collect a range of online writing analysis tools which I thought could help me to create some objective evaluation of literature. Using word frequency counters, text analyzers, word rating databases, gunning fog index and Flesch-Kincaid text tests, and last but not least, my favorite of all, CohMetrix, a cohesion analyzer for structural analysis, I was able to collect a stack of numbers on a wide range of books which included award winners, classics, renowned genre writers, and Dan Brown. These numbers were enlightening. Not only did they show that there were some startling similarities among this massive collection, they also showed that there was absolutely no way in hell that you could objectively state just what ‘good’ literature was! 

And so, back to the judges...

About Dani J Caile: After years of reading clones and proofreading coffee table books, Dani decided to put pen to paper so to speak, creating his own little fantasy universe, and wrote 3 books in the space of less than a year. In 2013 he finally self-published his free novella 'TDX2', and plans to write more, including another book from his crazy universe and a collection of adapted Shakespearean plays for children. With an abundance of praise for his sardonic, original and unique style of writing, he has already set out on turning his fantasy books into movie scripts

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1 comment:

  1. ...actually, I DID find an objective way of 'scoring' literature...:-)