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Post Reply Japanese Literature
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Posted 4/1/14
It's interesting that you mention light novels. I am currently an English major and one of the questions that is asked constantly is, is something like the light novel considered literature. An easy one to question would be Harry Potter, not that is as short as a light novel. Is it lit. or something else, and if it is something else what is it? I have recently finished the Book Girl series and I am trying to think of what area in writing it would fit under. The series has the conventions of creative writing. Character development, setting, interpersonal relationships, and a choice or turning point in each story. These are not all the parts of writing, but you can see where I'm going. Opinions?
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Posted 4/1/14
Full disclosure, I too am an English major. Yay! I think that means I am licensed to make up words and correct grammar on signboards, no?

It depends on your definition of literature. Broadly, all books are literature. We can tighten that up to just include all fiction and poetry.

But if we are putting the books in a bookstore, and we are deciding what goes in the literature section, then I say light novels are not going to be included. Partially because people will not look for them there, but also because literary fiction is about characters and language. If something is more driven by plot, then it is generally going to fall under a genre fiction category. So I suppose some light novels might end up in the literary fiction category by virtue of being more character driven, but that would be something you'd have to argue for each individual book. Also, I suppose literary fiction leans more toward 'art' than 'entertainment' although there is always going to be a mix of both.

As for length being a deciding factor. It is insignificant. Heart of Darkness is literature, is it not?

In other news, it looks like I should try out some Murakami. I have some anxiety related to Mishima because of reading 'Patriotism' without prior warning so I am scared of his stuff.
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Posted 4/2/14

anchore wrote:

Full disclosure, I too am an English major. Yay! I think that means I am licensed to make up words and correct grammar on signboards, no?

It depends on your definition of literature. Broadly, all books are literature. We can tighten that up to just include all fiction and poetry.

But if we are putting the books in a bookstore, and we are deciding what goes in the literature section, then I say light novels are not going to be included. Partially because people will not look for them there, but also because literary fiction is about characters and language. If something is more driven by plot, then it is generally going to fall under a genre fiction category. So I suppose some light novels might end up in the literary fiction category by virtue of being more character driven, but that would be something you'd have to argue for each individual book. Also, I suppose literary fiction leans more toward 'art' than 'entertainment' although there is always going to be a mix of both.

As for length being a deciding factor. It is insignificant. Heart of Darkness is literature, is it not?

In other news, it looks like I should try out some Murakami. I have some anxiety related to Mishima because of reading 'Patriotism' without prior warning so I am scared of his stuff.


I agree with almost everything you are saying. The only caveat is that shelving in a bookstore is driven more by marketing determination of genres than anything else. And, unfortunately, I think that colors what people consider literature. Margret Atwood's works are arguably science fiction. But she's shelved under literature, or just general fiction, since she and her publisher insist she writes speculative fiction--whatever the hell that means.

I can provide many more examples, but I think you know what I mean. I definitely agree that literature is more artistic in terms of symbolism, metaphor, writing quality, etc, but literature can also be entertaining in its own right. I doubt most of what we consider classical literature would have survived to this day if people didn't find it entertaining or rewarding in some measure.

So, long story short, yes I think some LN can be considered literature, but it depends entirely on the quality of the LN.
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Posted 4/3/14
In Japan light novel is more of a format akin to trade paperback. Some books will come out as a novel but will be released later in light novel format with the same content. The content itself varies greatly from pulp to serious writing which should definitely be considered in the literature category but most light novels are less serious as the name implies. As a non native Japanese speaker I find them easier to read generally than "real" Japanese novels. But some are written at the same level. Depends on the intended audience.

I'm not sure who Akutagawa was writing for. His works are short but are certainly literature. They are difficult even for native Japanese speakers.

As is Monogatari by Nisioisin but for some reason I find his stuff easy to read. They find the word play difficult while I find it educational.
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Posted 4/13/14
The only work of Japanese literature I've read was Silence and the Samurai by Shusaku Endo. Both were fantastic works of historical fiction.
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Posted 8/3/14

lorreen wrote:
...
But first, I've promised myself that I'll finish The Tale of Genji.


I wrote that almost a year ago, and I'm still not finished!

Was reading a few pages at a time on a regular basis for a while, then set it completely aside for a while, but got through quite a bit last week while I took a vacation dedicated to reading various thing (and to seeking out local cafes and parks good for spending chunks of time reading in).

Only 300 more pages to go! (out of 1120 total).

I'm glad I chose to read it, but I did find it difficult (even though I'm an English Lit major accustomed to reading somewhat "difficult" things). It's definitely not a "page-turner" but I found that even once I settled into reading it regularly it never really acquired a flow for me, and I'd get bored or distracted a lot. Oh well. Once I finish I might seek out some sort of easier-to-read commentary about it.
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