The Establishment of Division In Literature


Whilst literature remains a notable word, recently the phrase ‘literary fiction’ emerged and seems to hold little meaning both to authors and readers. Literary fiction is not a genre, rather a category which comprises works of fiction that, as the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines literature, are ‘considered to be very good and to have lasting importance’, of literary merit. Others may expand the definition to fictional works that tackle social or political leitmotivs or the human condition at large. To cite a few, Jane Austen’s, Albert Camus’ or more recently Umberto Eco’s writings would be considered as such.

Antagonistically, genre fiction, sometimes called popular fiction, is gauged to be its adversary. The works classified in this grouping are thus often described as plot-driven, poor quality prose, and even stereotyped. The categorization entails a definite label of the novel under a strictly specific genre. Furthermore, critics tend to designate these authors as solely seeking publication, giving it a new appellation: commercial fiction.

The classification has engendered controversy among critics, authors and scholars. And yet, the gap widens as the meaning of the phrases has expanded. The difference between literary fiction and genre fiction has increased. The subsets have become denoted by critics in terms of analysis and escapism. Genre fiction is said to be intended to escape reality, in contrast with literary fiction which purpose is to analyze reality.

To some degree, the velitation does not only revolve around the discord between authors and critics. Indeed, it enlarges on the readership in general. That being so, is there any impact on the regular reader? Knowing the ranking, would the average, and yet open-minded reader would shy away from one particular subset?

As regards to the readership’s generally known opinion on literature, the latter is an art form that is widely considered inclusive, rather than exclusive. Nonetheless, a certain elitism and biased vision of literature lies under the categorization among works of fiction. In an ultra-connected world where reading has been outshone among younger generations by activities based on technological devices, the tags put on literature may do more harm on reflection. Using these particular phrases induces prejudices on literature to arise. It wrongfully segregates specific genres and impairs the intrinsic nature of literature. This definition concludes in the loss of both sides. Neither literary fiction nor genre fiction can benefit from being labeled as such.


What are your views on the matter?

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