Most of us, as in humans, are not literature majors. Taking that into account we have to assume that most of us also are not necessarily prone to having enormous vocabularies or be adept in reading complex, convoluted sentences, the likes of which seem to be prevalent in literary criticism. This is my problem with the literary academia. There is considerable concern over the future of literature and concern in that people, in general and in the majority, are not reading, are not interested, and seemingly don't care. The problem is the literary academia.
I recently was reading one of my literary criticism books for one of my classes and I was marveling over the fact that the way it is written would pretty much put off almost everyone else. The sentences were long, filled with words that most people wouldn't know anyway, and utterly complex. This is not unusual in literary criticism, in fact, it's pretty much the norm. Who exactly reads these books? I certainly don't do it for fun. Why? Because I'm not interested in long-winded, boring analyses (yes, that's the plural). What I'm interested in is the criticism of whatever it is the author is talking about. But the literary world has no concept of market. They cling desperately to books they should clearly let die and completely disregard the books that the overwhelming majority of people favor as something not even literature.
But who is right?
You are. You, the people. You drive the market, and clearly what you are interested in is one thing, while the literary academia is interested in other. They desperately want you to respect books that you have no interest in, and rather than making them easily accessible, they create a mess of confusing books and articles that further drive you away. Most of us would rather read a really entertaining *insert popular author here* book rather than trying to wade our way through something dull and contrived.
Making things even worse, they give awards to books that most people will never touch, and avoid adding credibility to those books which clearly have a place and importance in our society and culture. Look at Harry Potter. The world seems to have embraced it, but still the literary academia refuses to grant it the position in the literary world that it damn well deserves simply because it's a novel of common themes in a fantastic setting.
To add some credibility to this, I am going to ask you a question. Do not do a Google search for it, and certainly don't look it up in a book. Answer honestly. How many of you can name 5 Nobel prize winners for literature?
I can name two: Gunter Grass and Andre Gide. I can only name them because I happen to be reading both authors this semester for my lit classes. Otherwise, I couldn't name any others.
Now I ask this, how many of you can name 5 books that were made into movies?
Probably all of you can, or at least come close to it. Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Children of Men, Great Expectations, The Importance of Being Earnest, etc.
How many of you can name 5 books that were best sellser?
Probably all of you. Da Vinci Code, Harry Potter, anything by Stephen King, etc.
See what I mean? When will we see one of these great novels that the majority of readers have enjoyed given the respect it deserves? I expect never, because like a stubborn old man, the literary academia is clinging desperately to old values and old ideas that have been lost to the winds of time.
Think about this...it might make your head hurt with annoyance.