LevGrossman

Posts Tagged ‘ragnarok protocol’


Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

What We Talk About When We Talk About Talking About Genre

The little lobe of my brain that serves as a Geiger counter for detecting blog posts theorizing about genre has been ticking with ever-increasing rapidity these days. It’s ticking so fast that it has crossed the threshold that unlocks another lobe of my brain, a top-secret lobe that contains a sealed black folder labeled RAGNAROK PROTOCOL that’s supposed to contain a blog post about genre.

Whoops. It’s empty.

The truth is I already said most of what I could think of to say about genre here, two years ago, in the Wall Street Journal of all places.

Interestingly, that piece turned out to be somewhat controversial, which was the last thing I expected, which shows you how little I know about genre, and for that matter, people. Some people who I really respect wrote some pretty sharp, pointy things about it. Basically the article was just my attempt to make the old literary-fiction-‘n’-genre-are-mergin’ argument, and ground it in a particular take on 20th century literary history. I just think that sometime in the early part of the 20th century social status, narrative, genre and shame all got woven together into a big tangled knot that we are only just now unraveling.

And it was the Modernists who did it. The Modernists, I say.

Enough people said I was wrong about this that I went and said the same thing, only shorter and testier, here a few days later. That oughta show’em!

In the intervening two years I haven’t gotten much past that, which probably says more about my low attention span and drastically declining neuroplasticity than it does about the soundness of my argument.

My only further reflections are these:

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