Tag Archives: definition

Commonplace #2

“…the modern, by definition is always new, and therefore open to the challenge, the only way in literary space to be truly modern is to contest the present as outmoded – to appeal to a still more present present, as yet unknown, which thus becomes the newest certified present” (91).

Casanova, Pascale. “The World Republic of Letters”. transl. M. B. Devoise. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1999. pp. 91.

This solidifies the properties of modern fiction that were discussed in class and how they bring about breaks with and within traditions. Modern is meant to challenge the old, presenting a new, refreshing piece of writing. It is something that is newer than the new, and “more present present”.

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.