Literary Blog Hop! (Follow the link to 'The Blue Bookcase' blog for LBH features.)
This week's question is:
Should literature have a social, political, or any other type of agenda? Does having a clear agenda enhance or detract from its literary value?
Can you hide your agenda with a story? Or does it come out of the pages to slap you across the face and call you a bitch? That's really all I can think when I mull over this question.
Literature always has an agenda, in my opinion, and if the author never set out to develop one readers will find one anyway. The trick is when the reader finishes a novel and first thinks about the engaging story, the powerful characters, and the rush of the plot BEFORE thinking of the agenda.
Too often is a book written just to teach a lesson. Everything fails from then forward, and while the 'moral of the story' may be clearly written, the rest of the book is poorly written, and the impact is far less than the author had imagined.
Yet the same goes for novels which have no agenda. Sure, everything was tasteful, but nothing was learned, and that little corner of our brain that wants that agenda isn't satisfied, and later shrivels up and dies.
There should always be a blend between the agenda of a book and the story telling. If the agenda is too pronounced then yes, it distracts the reader, or more horrifically the reader does not have story or engaging characters to put forth their effort with. Those great novels we admire have a balance; you appreciate the story telling while feeling that something has been expressed between the lines.
Great novels have great stores and great agendas. When you're done reading them, you just know it's right!
Does anybody agree? Disagree? Let me know!