In his article, "Popular and Highbrow Literature: A Comparative View," Peter Swirski discusses the role and status of popular fiction in contemporary culture. Starting with the basic question, "Who needs popular fiction?," he surveys select sociological evidence and prevailing aesthetic arguments in order to take stock of the ways in which highbrow literature and popular fiction relate to each other. He begins with statistical and socio-economic data which casts a different lights on many myths prevailing in scholarship as well as in general social and cultural discourse, such as the death of the novel, the alleged decline of the reading public, and the role of paperback publishing and commercial pressures in shaping literary production. In the second part of the article Swirski examines the most persistent aesthetic arguments used to deride and attack popular literature. Both parts of the article are, in fact, extended arguments for a greater literary democracy, reflected in his recommendations for a critical response to popular fiction more compatible with its actual socio-aesthetic status.
"Popular and Highbrow Literature: A Comparative View."
CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture
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