Saturday, November 20, 2010

Literary Blog Hop: I'm Not Making This Up!

Literary Blog Hop

The Blue Bookcase has started a "Literary Blog Hop" for blogs "that primarily feature reviews of literary fiction, classic literature, and general literary discussion."

Each week, in addition to hopping around and visiting some terrific book blogs, participants answer a bookish question.  This week's question is:

Is there such a thing as literary non-fiction? If so, how do you define it? Examples?

Connie answered "yes" on behalf of the Blue Bookcase team and makes the case for Maya Angelou as a master of literary non-fiction.

I have to keep my answer short this week (compared to my Finnegans Wake diatribe last week) because I am in a frenzy of pre-holiday prep work this weekend. So I will say this:

Yes, "literature" is not confined to fiction and poetry.  Non-fiction can be, and historically has been, literature.  In my mind, I count any non-fiction as literature if it is well written, expresses ideas as well as facts, and has some lasting value -- either because if its historical significance or because the ideas still resonate.

I've read quite a bit of non-fiction this year, not all of which I would count as literary, even though they may have been entertaining or useful.  Those I would put in the literary category include the following:
These include travel, essays, memoirs, biography, and straightforward non-fiction.  I definitely think history and historical biography can be literary, but I don't seem to have read any this year, although I am halfway through Antonia Frasier's biography of Marie Antoinette, and that definitely counts as literature.

I look forward to reading other people's answers to this question. It is another interesting one.

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