I am often accused of being a ‘Literary Type’. The most recent of these accusations came when I told a friend of mine that I was reading Jorge Luis Borges, and he then asked to tell me who he was. After informing him that he was a Latin American author, he dubbed me ‘definitely a literary type’. This lead me to question of what exactly he meant by ‘literary type’.
Often, when most people think of ‘literary types’, they think of older people sitting around a table, drinking some kind of beverage and discussing the merits of Ulysses or Ian McEwan, concerned with only the classics or contemporary ‘Literature’. To my friend, ‘literary type’ also went onto enclose all those with an interest in books outside of ones culture and/or is interested in the theory of literature. How correct is he in this definition?
Now I for one do not consider myself ‘literary’, I only have a deep love of books and a variety of books at that. I enjoy reading a huge number of genres, with authors like Dan Simmons, Victor Hugo William Burroughs, Steven King, Jung Chang, John Grisham, Jorge Luis Borges, China Miéville and Leo Tolstoy lining my bookshelves. On top of that, my love of Genre Fiction often excludes me from the ‘literary’ crowd, with it not being deemed ‘intellectual’ enough. You have some exceptions of course, but those are exceptions all the same.
Which leads me to believe that what ‘literary types’ are exactly is incredibly vague. It would seem that the general notion of a ‘literary type’ is one with a great interest and knowledge of books, whilst holding a kind of disdain for less ‘intellectual’ types of books. This definition can be widened or narrowed as seen fit for the person using the term, but it would still hold that core idea.
In turn, this leads me to disagree with the entire idea of a ‘literary type’. It takes for granted a superiority of an ‘intellectual’ kind of book, while being disdainful of other kinds of books, which I disagree with entirely. As readers of this blog will have discovered by now, I’m an incredibly liberal and relativist kind of person, so I frown upon people who make broad distinctions between different genres, with certain types of books being ‘not as good as such-and-such a book’. Dislike a book, critique a book due to its bad writing or style all you like, but don’t throw an entire genre out of the window because of its subject matter.