An important characteristic of literature is 'suggestiveness', please explain itAn important characteristic of literature is 'suggestiveness', please explain it

4 Answers | Add Yours

litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Literature is more powerful if we are able to relate to it, and create our own meaning based on what we bring to the work. If a writer tells too much, instead of giving us just enough to let us fill in the blanks, we can allow the work to mean what it needs to mean to us.
e-martin's profile pic

e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

The term "suggestiveness" in relation to a definition of literature probably can be best paralleled by the phrase "open to interpretation."

In pulp fiction or genre fiction, there is very little left open to doubt - usually - and the text deals with plot and action centrally.

However, in "literature" we have many, many examples of texts which are rich in possible meanings and multiple interpretations regarding motivation, character and symbolism. The meaning of a text is suggested as opposed to being well-defined.

For instance, in The Stranger we are fully aware of what happens, but we don't necessarily know why it happens. The why is central to the text as we try to decipher Mersault's reason for committing murder. That why is elusive and the answer is only suggested in the text.

It is this element of interpretability that can lead to great discussions.



wannam's profile pic

wannam | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

Suggestiveness is improtant because we all have different responses to situations. If the author is blatant, the reader will be forced to either agree or disagree. Suggestiveness creates a gray area. The reader can take the suggestion in a number of ways. This can work with complex ideas but it also works very well with minor details. For example, an author may choose to suggest that a character is frightening but fail to explain exactly what it is in their appearance that creates this effect. The suggestion leaves the reader free to fill in their own details. What one reader finds frightening another might find laughable. Suggesting that a character has a particular trait without giving the exact details allows each reader to experience the novel differently.
literaturenerd's profile pic

literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I think that "suggestiveness" in literature is important based upon the fact that the writer is not outright telling a reader how to react or feel. Instead, if a text is suggestive, the text will provide the reader with something to consider (and perhaps lead to a new or more refined way of thinking). If a text is blatant, a reader could be put off and not gain the knowledge or understand the point the author is trying to make.

We’ve answered 319,642 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question