Smut or not smut

An interesting post on the always interesting ReadySteadyBlog. As someone whose new book (note subtle plug) is being marketed as ‘part thriller, part love-story’ and in which there is both a murder and a mystery to be solved, I was very interested to see Jon Fosse’s stigmatization of the crime novel as ‘pornography of death’. Take a look and see what you think. Here’s a taste of his views:

What then about crime fiction, so highly esteemed as literature, at least here in the Scandinavian countries? Is it at all literature? No it isn’t. The aim of this literature is not to ask into the fundamentals of existence, of life, of death, it is not to try to reach the universal through the unique, it is a try to avoid such an asking, such unique universality, by stating already given answers that are not really answers, but just something one has heard before. It therefore feels as a pleasant and safe answer, and what feels pleasant and safe one could also call entertaining.

And when you’ve had a chance to read Any Human Face, I’ll tell you what I think…
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5 Responses to Smut or not smut

  1. Brian Keaney says:

    This definition of the function of literature – 'to ask into the fundamentals of existence, of life, of death…to try to reach the universal through the unique' – apart from being clumsily phrased and distinctly priggish is simply inadequate. Equally clumsy and unsatisfactory is the notion that one can lump all Scandanavian crime novels together.

  2. You've basically pre-empted me here, Brian. Though I think the clumsy phrasing might be the result of Fosse's not being a native speaker. He's clearly got it in for Stieg Larsson though. And there is a case for saying that the classic whodunit is a consolatory genre… But I'll save the rest of my thoughts for a later post, as I promised.

  3. Brian Keaney says:

    There's a very interesting piece on Stieg Larsson & co here http://www.nplusonemag.com/man-who-blew-up-welfare-statethat argues that Scandanavian crime fiction in gerneral and Larsson in particular is anything but consolatory.

  4. Brian Keaney says:

    or even in general

  5. Sorry Brian, I've only just realised your last comment hadn't been ok'd! You're quite right, but I wouldn't call Larsson a classic whodunit – I was thinking more of Midsomer Murders…

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