values in fiction beyond entertainment

May 15, 2018

And this brings us to an issue that is never discussed: the dimly glimpsed truth that liking a book cannot, by itself, decide its overall quality. I’ll hurry past the issue with a few assertions:

● ‘Enjoyable is not the same as Good.’
● ‘Enjoyable can be Good.’
● ‘Good can be boring and still be Good.’
● ‘Boring may sometimes mean a work is Bad.’
● ‘Serious work can be entertaining.’
● ‘There are many values in fiction beyond entertainment. It can provoke interest and curiosity, elicit understanding and sympathy, make us feel and think, confront ourselves, and involve us in ways that intellectual discussion can’t – and do all this without being entertaining. In fact, it can be downright disturbing and frightening.’

George Zabrowski
Raising the Net: The C. P. Snow Lecture, Ithaca College, 6 April 1995

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