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Literary The MR Literary Club • Welcome, Information & General Discussion
#11  sun surfer 12-19-2012, 02:12 AM
As all of you may notice, the thread title has changed. This used to be the thread to keep track of categories and selections; now it's being expanded into the catch-all thread for our club. We'll use this thread as a welcome thread, an information thread and a general discussion thread all in one. It won't happen all at once, but during 2013, I hope to update the first post to include more relevant information and links.

If you're new to the club and have any questions or want to introduce yourself, you can post here (or just jump right into whichever other thread interests you). If anyone has questions, suggestions or anything else they'd like to discuss about the Literary Club or literature itself, post it here!

And to start things off with a little bang, I was thinking of a small change for 2013. Most changes, if any, would come during our yearly anniversary in the summer, but this is a small one that I think would be well to go ahead and start now.

Instead of aiming for five fully nominated works every month, we could instead simply aim for three full days of nominations.

It's not a big deal either way, but the reason being that we've had months where we don't reach five fully nominated works, which is fine, but it seems like because of this it'd be better if we didn't worry about trying to reach a specific number of nominees.
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#12  desertblues 02-23-2013, 05:29 AM
I have some questions for which I searched in the bookclub, but couldn't find:
- are there restrictions on choices for the literary bookclub, save for the genre?
- what genre is next month?
- to see whether a book has already been read: it is enough to search for the name of a book on the forum, or are the books listed somewhere?

Thank you in advance....
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#13  Billi 02-23-2013, 08:31 AM
desertblues, some of your questions - next categories, books already read - are answered in the first post of this thread.
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#14  desertblues 02-23-2013, 09:22 AM
thank you Billi.
I thought there were some more books previous, but the literary bookclub exists from 2011 I see now.
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#15  sun surfer 03-01-2013, 12:53 PM
As Billi said, next month's genre and previous selections are in the first post of this thread (and yep, we started not that long ago really, mid-2011). I can see how it could be easily missed at the present though because I'm in the (slow) process of updating and reformatting the post, so it's a bit messy right now. I should have it all sorted out by say mid-year at the latest.

About restrictions for the Lit Club, the main criteria is that it just be literary and fit the monthly category, and that's about it. For the most part it's left up to the nomination/voting process to weed out any nominations that might not fit well, but sometimes (rarely) I might step in if something definitely doesn't fit.

Hope that helps!
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#16  Bookpossum 03-04-2013, 11:22 PM
From time to time there seem to have been discussions about what is (or isn't) literature. As you are planning an update to the opening post in this thread, sun surfer, could I suggest that it includes a definition or at least guidelines for what we mean by literature?

I know that's hard to do, but I think it would include things like having lasting merit, having themes of universal interest, illuminating a culture or a period, and of course being well written. (No Nevil Shute in this Book Club!)

My Concise Oxford Dictionary says:

"Writings whose value lies in beauty of form or emotional effect."

My Macquarie Dictionary (a very good Australian dictionary) says:

"Writings in which expression and form, in connection with ideas of permanent and universal interest, are characteristic and essential features, as poetry, romance, history, biography, essays, etc; belles-lettres."

And thanks again, sun surfer, for all your work in making the Literary Book Club such a good place to be!
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#17  Hamlet53 03-05-2013, 06:53 AM
Quote Bookpossum
From time to time there seem to have been discussions about what is (or isn't) literature. As you are planning an update to the opening post in this thread, sun surfer, could I suggest that it includes a definition or at least guidelines for what we mean by literature?

I know that's hard to do, but I think it would include things like having lasting merit, having themes of universal interest, illuminating a culture or a period, and of course being well written. (No Nevil Shute in this Book Club!)

My Concise Oxford Dictionary says:

"Writings whose value lies in beauty of form or emotional effect."

My Macquarie Dictionary (a very good Australian dictionary) says:

"Writings in which expression and form, in connection with ideas of permanent and universal interest, are characteristic and essential features, as poetry, romance, history, biography, essays, etc; belles-lettres."

And thanks again, sun surfer, for all your work in making the Literary Book Club such a good place to be!
I agree. Their have been some selections recently that I would not have call literary.
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#18  issybird 03-05-2013, 07:34 AM
Agree with 'possum on the need for guidelines and sadly with Hamlet that a few selections have missed the mark.
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#19  fantasyfan 03-05-2013, 08:54 AM
I think Sun surfer's approach in his opening description of the club is really very good indeed. But possibly, the literary angle could be further tweaked. I'll share a few of my thoughts though I don't know if they really add anything significant. Perhaps they might form a platform for further discussion--if anyone wants to do so. If not, well, here they are anyway.

Defining "literary" is difficult because "literature" itself is such a vague term. But if we are using the term qualitatively--personally, I would say that a literary evaluation--at least for the standard literary genres-- depends on excellence of writing, significance of theme, and an effective formal development.

Of these (IMO} the most important factor is the first.

I went to A Dictionary of Literary Terms by J.A. Cuddon who makes an attempt to define "literature". Here's what he comes up with.

"If we describe something as 'literature', as opposed to anything else, the term carries with it qualitative connotations which imply that the work in question has superior qualities; that it is well above the ordinary run of written works. For example, George Eliot's novels are literature, whereas Fleming's Bond books are unquestionably not."

However, for our purposes in the club it would seem that sometimes the works chosen may not be from a traditional literary genre. Cuddon again:

"However, there are many works which cannot be classified in the main literary genres which nevertheless may be regarded as literature by virtue of the excellence of their writing, their originality, and their general aesthetic and artistic merits."

Among the many examples given in this latter area he includes such works as Augustine's City of God, Gibbon's Decline and Fall . . ., and Runciman's A History of the Crusades.

So clearly we should always be looking for something special in our choice--whatever genre it comes from. I feel that there are touchstones we can use to evaluate whether or not a work fits the definition of "literature" as Cuddon expresses it. We can examine some of the features mentioned such as originality, beauty, vision, etc. If the proposed book is only another example of a particular topic--even if competently written--and doesn't add something special to our understanding--then it probably isn't suitable for the literary club--though it may still be eminently worth reading for anyone interested in the area.
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#20  HomeInMyShoes 03-05-2013, 09:24 AM
Quote fantasyfan
So clearly we should always be looking for something special in our choice--whatever genre it comes from. I feel that there are touchstones we can use to evaluate whether or not a work fits the definition of "literature" as Cuddon expresses it. We can examine some of the features mentioned such as originality, beauty, vision, etc. If the proposed book is only another example of a particular topic--even if competently written--and doesn't add something special to our understanding--then it probably isn't suitable for the literary club--though it may still be eminently worth reading for anyone interested in the area.
I think that is what we should be looking for. As hard as quality is to define, we all seem to know it when we see it.
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