Nat S Ford (natf) wrote,
Nat S Ford

Literary vs. genre fiction?

I have been meaning to ask this since watching a TV programme about a "Literary Fiction" new authors short-list.

What exactly is literary fiction and why do these people look down upon genre fiction authors?

Surely genre fiction is just … All fiction has a genre (or many overlapping genres), surely? Is it, as someone has suggested to me, "all the 'ponsy' stuff," meaning, if I am interpreting them correctly, writing that is well written and edited Queen's English (as opposed to 'common' English) and is all high-brow and know-it-all? I know that I like to write fantasy or SF settings but I do use very British English with lots of 'pretty' / 'clever' prose. That happens to be how I think and often how I speak. Does that mean that my vignettes are literary fiction which happen to also exist within a genre?

I am totally confused. I guess I should google or wikipedia for "literary fiction". The dictionary is little help. All it ( in this case) says is:

   /ˈlɪtəˌrɛri/ [lit-uh-rer-ee]
1. pertaining to or of the nature of books and writings, especially those classed as literature: literary history.
2. pertaining to authorship: literary style.
3. versed in or acquainted with literature; well-read.
4. engaged in or having the profession of literature or writing: a literary man.
5. characterized by an excessive or affected display of learning; stilted; pedantic.
6. preferring books to actual experience; bookish.

1640–50; < Latin līterārius, litterārius of reading and writing. See letter, -ary

So, all books are literary and, extrapolating from that, so is all fiction.

Grargh. Okay, sometimes English fails me. Usually when English is being as illogical as this!
Tags: writing

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