The literary world is closed minded. To say this brands one as a crank. This is itself a marker that literature does NOT welcome harsh criticism. It flees from it.
The current literary system should be questioned on two points. 1.) The system which produces our literature needs to be questioned. 2.) The artistic standards of the current system need to be questioned.
For example, the novels, stories, and poems which have been designated by the system’s authorities as the “best” or most significant of the second half of the Twentieth Century aren’t the best or most significant. The standards are wrong—which is why American literature today is irrelevant and flawed.
If your standards produce a chair that’s crooked and which no one wants, you’ll question your standards, your blueprint. Likewise, we should question the literary world.
I’ll examine this subject in more depth on my ideas blog at www.happyamericaliterature.blogspot.com. (Access restricted to real people.)
Among the points I’ll touch on is that the problem isn’t confined to literature. Even with a healthier art form, like film, one finds among well-schooled critics a failure to understand the nature of the art.
EXAMPLE: On the stands at bookstores at the moment is a film magazine proclaiming its selection of the 100 greatest Western movies of all time. The magazine’s top three choices, in order, are
1.) "High Noon.”
2.) “The Ox-Bow Incident.”
3.) “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.”
Have you seen them?
Fine movies all—but their selection is revealing. Think about it. What defines film as film? What distinguishes the art form? What characterizes a Western as a Western?
Answer these questions and you’ll be on the right road.