Philip mooreWhat makes something literary in your own mind?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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To concur with the above post, not all books that are written have literary merit.  Just a walk through the aisles of the supermarkets of hard and soft covered print will indicate this truth.  A work of literary merit is constructed artistically, it is written artistically, it touches upon a universal motif or theme; it raises the reader from the mundane.  When the reader closes the cover on a work of literary merit, he/she has had an experience of thought.

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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To my mind, a literary work must show command of language and its structure--if something is so poorly or simplistically written that it bores me solid in the first page (or less), then, to my mind, it can not have literary merit. It may be a good story--and the world needs good stories (without good stories, like The girl with the Pearl Earring, what would Hollywood do ...??)--but it cannot be a good literary work. It may also be valuable and important (like The Awakening), but not have literary merit. To have literary merit, to my mind, a work must combine excellence in language with complexity of thought with compelling story with human relevance with brilliance (on some level) of execution. That is a lot to ask for from an author and in a work--but it is not an impossible request. It is true, to my mind, that most authors--though they may make important contributions or add important entertainment or contribute important insights--will never attain a literary status.

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