Monday, February 9, 2009

!!!!!The Great Books Keep on Coming!!!!!

Recently there has been an article written that questions what characterizes what a great book is. After reading this article several questions of mine arise. The first question, what makes a great book? In this article the author seems to imply that a great book needs to hold a pertinent historical significance. This I feel is a good representation of a good book, but in order to become a great book shouldn’t there be more to it? The last characteristic of a great book described by the author (Mr. Gregerson) insinuates that only great authors can create great books. In this rather narrow-minded assumption by the author, the validity of his argument is drastically weakened.
As a result of the questionable things said about what makes a great book, several responses have been made in a contradictory fashion. The main arguments made by these opposing positions are comparable with my own. In the initial argument by Mr. Gregerson he speaks about how a great book needs to be written by a great writer. An opposing professor from Mr. Gregerson’s institution responded to this claim by stating, “there is no reason to assume that people stopped writing worthwhile books in the 1850’s” (Professor Tucker). Reiterating the words of Professor Tucker was a fellow peer of Mr. Gregerson. He also supported the notion that books written in what we understand as modern society can eventually lead to great books. If great books must hold a cultural significance, then books developed now days shall be insightful to the generations and centuries to come. Mr. Gregerson’s frustration with what some academics consider great books doesn’t coincide with his own personal understanding of what a great book is. Based on the information presented, the author was more focused on attempting to prove a point, than to present worthwhile knowledge.
However, one thing that can be positively contributed to Mr. Gregerson’s article is the controversy it stirred up. As avid reader of books, I believe that I was neglecting to understand myself what it takes to consider a book great. As a world I believe that we take what is predetermined by academics to be truth. Which I feel is important in order to grasp a firm understanding of literature. However, as I began to understand what I feel constitutes a great book. I often myself coinciding with the academics have previously suggested. Although I do not feel that I have came up with a concrete enough understanding of what constitutes a great book; but with the influence of the class colliquim (A class at my institution that directs all it’s focus on variety great novels from past to modern societies) I intend on coming out with my personal beliefs. If you can praise a negative article, then that’s what I intend on doing; even though I disagree with a lot of what Mr. Gregerson has stated, he still stirred up my curiosity to begin to establish what I deem as a “Great Book”.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with Ben. We can argue about Royce's "ignorance" all we want, but it doesn't fix anything or go anywhere. On the other hand, his article does bring up a very important topic of what makes a book canonized and should it stand the test of time before it is considered a "great book." I believe the canon should be a mix of classics (time-tested books) and books from modern times to represent new genres, new groups of people, and new perspectives. We misunderstand a "great book" and that it has to be 'old' and really popular, but I believe a "great book" is something that evokes emotion in a reader and tries to convey a deeper message. Many books are not always widely accepted, but they are still great works of literature. In conclusion, the problem that Royce raises is how do we choose what "great books" to read. Since there are so many critically-acclaimed books out there, how do we choose which ones that we have to read in a "great books" class? I personally believe that some bias does play into this by the person considering what is important to them and its impact on literature in general.