Tag Archives: opinion

Slang and tone

“I wonder what he did with himself,” said Lord Peter thoughtfully. “I really don’t think he was committing a murder. Besides, I believe the fellow has been dead a day or two, though it don’t do to build too much on doctors’ evidence. It’s an entertainin’ little problem.” (27)

(Sayers, Dorothy. Whose Body? 1923. Reprint, New York: Dover, 2009.)

I find the different ways that Lord Peter speaks to people very interesting. With some he adopts a slang of sorts and in others he is far more formal. Oddly, this is not something I notice in most other characters. While it is normal for most of us, it seems that often characters  in other texts are very similar in their interactions with all people.

The Definition of Literature

Literature should be either instructive or amusing; and there is in many minds an impression that these artistic preoccupations, the search for form, contribute to neither end, interfere indeed with both. They are too frivolous to be edifying, and too serious to be diverting; and they are moreover priggish and superfluous.

Henry James, “The Art of Fiction” Major Stories and Essays (New York: Literary Classics of the United States, 1999), 576.

Every person has different interests and feelings on what good literature is. Henry James feels that literature should only be one or other and should stay within the definitions of amusing or instructive. Otherwise, it does not reach the potential and becomes superfluous rather than literature.

The distinction between a good and bad novel

There are bad novels and good novels, as there are bad pictures and good pictures; but that is the only distinction in which I see any meaning, and I can as little imagine speaking of a novel of character as I can imagine speaking of a picture of a character.

Henry James, “The Art of Fiction” Major Stories and Essays (New York: Literary Classics of the United States, 1999), 583.

Every reader has their own taste in novels (“in which I can see any meaning”) and it is not up to the reader to judge what is a bad novel and what is a good novel. Every reader has their own impression on the novel based on the experiences they have been through; therefore, not every novel can be “liked” and enjoyed but that does not make it a “bad novel.”