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Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. All Languages. More filters. Sort order. Anthony rated it liked it Feb 06, Michael Hemingwayhero rated it really liked it Jul 21, Domenica Alioto rated it really liked it Dec 16, David Nelson rated it liked it Jul 24, TMA Library added it Jun 01, Managing Director added it Oct 23, Daniel Petersen marked it as to-read Aug 05, James marked it as to-read Mar 29, Mary marked it as to-read Apr 07, Skilled genre writers know that a certain level of artificiality must prevail, lest the reasons we turn to their books evaporate.

Heroes should go up against villains sympathetic or hateful ; love should, if possible, win out; and a satisfying sense of closure and comeuppance should top off the experience. Basically, a guilty pleasure is a fix in the form of a story, a narrative cocktail that helps us temporarily forget the narratives of our own humdrum lives.

So, despite the best efforts of literary theorists, the concept of guilty pleasures, although wobbly, seems to be holding firm. Probably a few well-respected writers can recite passages from genre novels, and some may recognize the following:. I had this story from one who had no business to tell it to me, or to any other.

G. K. Chesterton (Bloom's Modern Critical Views)

I may credit the seductive influence of an old vintage upon the narrator for the beginning of it, and my own skeptical incredulity during the days that followed for the balance of the strange tale. I do not say the story is true, for I did not witness the happenings which it portrays, but the fact that in the telling of it to you I have taken fictitious names for the principal characters quite sufficiently evidences the sincerity of my own belief that it MAY be true. He was created in and appeared in twenty-five sequels, twelve or thirteen of which I read when I was around twelve or thirteen.


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Had I been any older, I think I would have known that this is writing as a form of silent-film acting, no more believable than the conspiratorial smiles and exaggerated frowns of hammy vaudevillians. Lovecraft, and Philip K. Dick wrote for the pulps, and all, not coincidentally, have been ordained by the Library of America. One hardly requires more proof of the insidious plot: writers we once thought of as guilty pleasures are being granted literary status. Despite the turgid prose, the wooden dialogue, and the fact that the apes exhibit more complexity than the humans, the Tarzan novels have become a solemn cultural fixation.

The guilty-pleasure label peels off more easily if we recall that the novel itself was once something of a guilty pleasure. In the mid-eighteenth century, there was a hovering suspicion that novels were for people not really serious about literature. Unlike works of moral or religious instruction, novels were diverting.

Of course, if they proved too diverting, how good could they be? Hence Dickens, with his enormous audience, was considered by many of his contemporaries to be more of a sentimentalist and a caricaturist than a serious artist.

G. K. Chesterton - Wikiquote

Modernism, of course, confirmed the idea of the commercial novel as a guilty pleasure by making the literary novel tough sledding. Far from delivering easy pleasures, modernist fiction could be an exercise in aesthetic and psychological subtlety; it was written not for people with time on their hands but for those willing to put in the time to master it. Indeed, fiction in the age of modernism became as much identified with literature as poetry or plays, and its complexities required a new class of expert readers, a secular clergy capable of explaining its mysteries.

Serious fiction was serious business, and a reader might tire of it. George Orwell was such a reader. Today, the literary climate has changed: the canon has been impeached, formerly neglected writers have been saluted, and the presumed superiority of one type of book over another no longer passes unquestioned.

G. K. Chesterton

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