08 September 2011

Literary Blog Hop: Sept. 8-11

Literary Blog Hop

Must all literary writing be difficult? Can you think of examples of literary writing that was not difficult?

It's hard to think tat literary writing is difficult if you're somebody like... me, who reads it and majors in it. Difficult seems a strong word to describe that sort of style of writing, but as a reader I suppose I would characterize this area of writing as more of a challenge, than being difficult.

At times style, subject matter, and language can all give readers pause. I'm not saying that it causes people to put on the breaks when it comes to some works, but I'll be the first to admit some classics had me reading in a different way than usual. Some of the writing is just not nearly as simple as is a lot of modern day fiction or especially Young Adult fiction. (While we can all appreciate the modern piece that does hold a good weight of "difficulty" or gives the reader a good challenge, I think a lot of readers will agree with me when I say that the classics are the more profound challengers.)

But not all pieces were difficult. The Lord of the Flies was exceptionally easy to understand as far as reading went. There weren't too many heavy words or thick writing, I read it in High School and gave it no pause. The subject, however, was a different story for some of my peers. Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice had a fun and witty story, but her writing was something that even I had to get used to. (I am a huge fan of her now, though!)

I guess difficulty or level of challenge, however you want to approach it, varies from reader to reader. Some literary writing I work my way through without even noticing there as heavy writing. Some books were a struggle for me to get through just because of the writing style, even though I was completely grasping the plot.

I don't think all literary writing needs to be difficult, because I think that's the wrong word to use. I think all literary writing needs to be challenging in one way or another. That's what makes the reading an adventure, and what allows people to come out of it having "aged" in some way as a reader. This is probably why most classics still hold their value even in the modern age where so much in life and literature has changed.

So I believe that difficult/challenging literature is the literature most people appreciate more, even if they struggled through it. I don't really know what books would be considered "easy" literature... To Kill a Mockingbird? The Great Gatsby?

Literature gives us pause because it's supposed to; that's it's job.


  1. I like how you distinguish between difficult and challenging. In my answer I used them interchangeably, although I suppose in reality they aren't. My thoughts were that the prose doesn't necessarily have to be more difficult, but because of the very nature of literary fiction it will be a more difficult/challenging read than ordinary genre fiction because it requires a lot more of the reader.

  2. I think it is very important to, as you did, to set difficult and challenging apart-we have all had difficult teachers from whom we have learned nothing and teachers who in very clear simple ways challenged us-

  3. You are very right about good literature challenging us in some way. Very nicely put.
    Glad I found your blog.I see myself visiting often.

  4. @ CHE - Thank you! I look forward to seeing your 'face' around the comments, :)

  5. I thought of the same distinction between difficult and challenging. I think To Kill a Mockingbird and The Great Gatsby are both simple books but not easy ones.

  6. I agree with Red's comment above. I write about Gatsby's simpleness in my post, but it is only simple in comparison to a lot of the books that we acknowledge as "difficult reads." I also read agree with you about difficulty varying from reader to reader. I loved reading Tristram Shandy and Moby Dick although I think it might be a "truth universally acknowledged" that those are "difficult" books.

    Here is my post.

  7. I like your last comment, and I also like how you said that literature needs to be challenging in one way or another. I totally agree. What's wonderful is how books can be challenging in different ways depending on who the reader is.


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