Beyond the Blurb: On Critics and Criticism. Published by Cow Eye Press

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I used to watch Masterpiece Theater as a kid and I went on to read Hardy and James as a direct result. I can't be the only one either. I'm sure more people read Jane Austen because of the recent boom in Austen film adaptations too. So at best it does lead people to the books themselves. At worst it's entertainment of a different sort and does no discernible damage, unless one could prove empirically that it resulted in FEWER people reading those books. Your argument that watching such fare isn't a substitute for reading is unimpeachable, though.


My first experience of Crime & Punishment was with a (I think) BBC miniseries as a young boy. I'd only ever heard of the book before that. It gave me a sense of the narrative plot, and the setting, all that. Can't say whether it did me well or badly.

Lloyd Mintern

While it seems the content flow is a one-way street from books to film, the more important story I think is how film influences the form and structure of literature, and dictates the imagination of younger writers altogether.

Jacob Russell

Just what is it that becomes "part of pop culture?"

Something stripped of its source--or any source. Neither film nor book. And this, evidently, is its real meaning--that it become common coin.

A cultural equivalent of money. "Not something sacred" What does that mean? --creating an abstract artifact, cut loose from the gold standard, leaving its value measurable only in terms of its currency of exchange.

But unlike money, exchange can be made only with other equally empty cultural artifacts. Value is assigned when the artifact is given some temporary utility as a function for selling a real commodity, political or commercial.

Jane Austin's novels are not degraded by the films that draw from them, but by our according them value because they have demonstrated such success in selling films.

Every reviewer who pumps that bit of wisdom into the septic tank of pop culture, reinforces exactly this transvaluation--or devaluation.

In "pop culture", words don't create or destroy value: they reveal what we choose to value or disvalue.

If there is no escape from ideology, as Zizek demonstrates--what ground to criticize this diminishment?

None, but in the absence we find in the works themselves. In their Lack... In the silence that is their well of meaning--tainted, to be sure, by our very act of drawing it forth, but granting us, in that absence of meaning, a freedom we cannot own or subsume--but only live and respond to, again and again.

Jacob Russell

Though it was a struggle--and took years of study, I did manage to get through Austin in English.

Jacob Russell

Make that, AustEn...

ESL problems, yaknow...

Jacob Russell

On literature in translation, I'd also recommend Milan Kundera's Die Weltliterature, in THE CURTAIN.

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