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Poe and Baudelaire

I've chosen Edgar Allan Poe and Charles Baudelaire as guides to the current exploration of literature. They lived in an era when literature started to develop into a product of mass consumption. Poe illustrates the horrific sensibility and Baudelaire the decadent and experimental qualities of the transgressive literature which are central to Jahsonic.com. [Nov 2006]

The history of literacy is several thousand years old, but before the industrial revolution finally made cheap paper and cheap books available to all classes in industrialized countries, in the mid-nineteenth century, literacy existed only in a tiny minority of the world's different societies. Until then, materials associated with literacy were so expensive that only wealthy people and institutions could afford them. [Apr 2006]

The 19th century was perhaps the most literary of all centuries, because not only were the forms of novel, short story and magazine serial all in existence side-by-side with theatre and opera, but since film, radio and television did not yet exist, the popularity of the written word and its direct enactment were at their height. [Jan 2005]

The canon: Martin Amis - Georges Bataille - Charles Baudelaire - Céline - Dostoevsky - Franz Kafka - Stephen King - Edgar Allan Poe more ...

Compare: genre fiction vs literary fiction

Anthologies: Romantic Agony (1930) - Mario Praz - Anthologie de l'Humour Noir (1940) - The Misfits: A Study of Sexual Outsiders (1988) - The Rough Guide to Cult Fiction (2005) - 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006)

By region: American literature - British literature - French literature - German literature - Japanese literature - Italian literature - Russian literature - World literature

History: 1600s literature - 1700s literature - 1800s literature - 1900s literature

Major forms: epic - Romance - novel - theatre

Related: author - blurb - books - essay - fiction - language - literal - literacy - literary - magazine - newspaper - novel - paper - poetry - printing - prose - publishing - story - text - translation - Western canon - word - list of writers - writing

Genres: banned books - comic books - crime fiction - cult fiction - giallo - erotic fiction - fantastic literature - genre fiction - gothic novel - horror fiction - literary fiction - meta fiction - modern literature - modernist literature - mystery fiction - non-fiction - paraliterature - picaresque - popular fiction - postmodern novel - pulp fiction - ribaldry - science fiction - world literature

Reference: bibliography - biography - dictionary - encyclopedia - movie book - music book - sex manuals

Theory: lit crit - literature - literary criticism - literary genre - literary theory - literary technique


Literature is a term (­like taste, culture, quality and style) that carries its own value judgement: Literature (with capital L, also called literary fiction) is associated with serious, complex, difficult and demanding works like Modernist literature (e.g. James Joyce) and experimental novels (e.g. Nouveau Roman).

On the other side of the spectrum are popular fiction and genre fiction, which are perceived as easy, accessible and of low literary merit.

Jahsonic.com aims to show that good works can be found in high and low literary genres, and the more interesting works are to be found where high and low intersect (Cervantes, Stephen King, Simenon, Georges Bataille, ...). [Oct 2005]


Literature is literally "acquaintance with letters" as in the first sense given in the Oxford English Dictionary (from the Latin littera meaning "an individual written character (letter)"). The term has generally come to identify a collection of texts, mainly novels, drama and poetry. --http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Literature [Jan 2006]

Problem of definition

There is often confusion regarding the actual definition of literature and Literature. The word "literature" can be both singular and plural, likewise with "Literature". This being said, "literatures" is also plural. However "Literature", with emphasis on uppercase L, is a subset of the more general "literature". "Literature" refers to written work of exceptional intellectual calibre, whereas "literature" can be anything written. Accordingly, War and Peace by Tolstoy is "Literature" (singular) as well as "literature" (singular), while Charles Dickens' work is part of "Literature" (plural) as well as "literature" (plural).

Consequently, a Harry Potter novel will be included in "literature" (singular) but not in "Literature" (singular) since most people would not deem the books as sufficiently intellectual or meaningful at an academic level. Likewise the Harry Potter collection by JK Rowling will be included in "literature" (plural) but not in "Literature" (plural). What is intellectual and meaningful is subjective and often controversial or dubious, but it does not interfere with the above definition. Many would also argue on what forms "Literature" must be to indeed be "Literature", such as whether or not Neil Gaiman's The Sandman can be in fact Literature due to it being a graphic novels series.

Furthermore, people may perceive a difference between "literature" and some popular forms of written work. The terms "literary fiction" and "literary merit" often serve to distinguish between individual works. For example, almost all literate people perceive the works of Charles Dickens as "literature", whereas many tend to look down on the works of Jeffrey Archer as unworthy of inclusion under the general heading of "English literature". Critics may exclude works from the classification "literature", for example, on the grounds of a poor standard of grammar and syntax, of an unbelievable or disjointed story-line, or of inconsistent or unconvincing characters. Genre fiction (for example: romance, crime, or science fiction) may also become excluded from consideration as "literature". --http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Literature [Oct 2005]

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