Entertainment with or without literary lessons?

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Entertainment with or without literary lessons?

Post Number:#1  Postby Lark_Truth » January 25th, 2017, 10:58 am

The stories and novels that I love to read the best are those that don't just entertain me, but teach me truths and philosophies that are awe-inspiring. Harry Potter teaches about the power of Love, not just romantic love, but the deep, magical love of sacrifice and bonds of friendship. Harry Potter also has some very useful do's and do-not's of flirting. Terry Brook's Shannara sagas teach about the power of truth, the acceptance of self, and the way lies can twist life itself (through dark magic of course, but still). Brandon Sanderson has a lot on fear, acceptance, hope, honor, truth, lies, etc. But lots of people still like to read the entertainment stuff, just for fun. I do to. So the question I am asking here is: Are lessons in entertainment better than just plain entertainment?
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Entertainment with or without literary lessons?



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Re: Entertainment with or without literary lessons?

Post Number:#2  Postby LuckyR » January 29th, 2017, 12:13 am

Lark_Truth wrote:The stories and novels that I love to read the best are those that don't just entertain me, but teach me truths and philosophies that are awe-inspiring. Harry Potter teaches about the power of Love, not just romantic love, but the deep, magical love of sacrifice and bonds of friendship. Harry Potter also has some very useful do's and do-not's of flirting. Terry Brook's Shannara sagas teach about the power of truth, the acceptance of self, and the way lies can twist life itself (through dark magic of course, but still). Brandon Sanderson has a lot on fear, acceptance, hope, honor, truth, lies, etc. But lots of people still like to read the entertainment stuff, just for fun. I do to. So the question I am asking here is: Are lessons in entertainment better than just plain entertainment?


To my view there is a confirmation bias going on here. Firstly, who is an author to claim better knowledge and experience such that they have the authority to be giving out lessons to the rabble? Secondly, if I have two novels that have opposite takes on the value of love, say, won't a reader find one of them heartwarming and therefore a "lesson" and the other off-putting and thus forgettable? Therefore the "lesson" learned is what one already believes. So is the lesson really learned or just reconfirmed?
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Re: Entertainment with or without literary lessons?

Post Number:#3  Postby Eduk » January 31st, 2017, 8:44 am

Those novels you mention are mostly entertainment. I think for the most part the lessons are incidental, although in some cases profound, and are more a case of the author unconsciously exposing their world view rather than any deliberate attempt to teach. For example the Hobbit teaches through the atmosphere of the book and the lesson is not obvious, although in my opinion it is profound.

For books which have a message I would recommend, in no order, The Grapes of Wrath, Catcher in the Rye, Catch 22 and 1984. There are of course many others.

As to your actual question, are books which teach better than books which don't. Then yes they are. All being equal if we aren't sacrificing entertainment for lessons then it's better to have teaching for free, so to speak. Of course what is being taught and how it is taught can be totally open. For some the Hobbit is silly, but I personally think it is silly to think it is silly.
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Re: Entertainment with or without literary lessons?

Post Number:#4  Postby -1- » March 16th, 2017, 11:05 am

Talking about books that teach: I saw in a discard pile a book I really hope it had a title not meant as an imperative, but instead, the book was a last-ditch effort to save mankind. Its title was,

"Pitbulls for Dummies".

Yikes. The concept itself is staggering.

Some other titles planned in the series:

"Nuclear weapons for terrorists." "Razor blades and used sharp hypodermic needles for babies." "Philosophy forums for ego-depraved adults."

-- Updated 2017 March 16th, 11:16 am to add the following --

Eduk wrote:For books which have a message I would recommend, in no order, The Grapes of Wrath, Catcher in the Rye, Catch 22 and 1984. There are of course many others.

For some the Hobbit is silly, but I personally think it is silly to think it is silly.


I never read Catch 22 in the Rye, but the Sour Grapes of Wrath is good. 1984... what lesson did it teach you? it is a political novel, not a Bible study aid. It made a statement, but it did not teach, per se. I may be totally wrong, that's why I asked. I read the book, saw the movie, and lived through it in real life. If anyone, I'm an expert at it. I still can't find a reasonable lesson in it which I can apply in real life. I think it is one of the most profoundly misunderstood books of our times.


And don't let Lorena Hobbit know what you precisely think about her book which she wrote and dedicated to her husband. She still has them sharp knives.

I wonder if she ever got anywhere with any men after that.
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Re: Entertainment with or without literary lessons?

Post Number:#5  Postby Eduk » March 16th, 2017, 1:58 pm

If you have read the book then I have nothing more to add. I value my time.
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Re: Entertainment with or without literary lessons?

Post Number:#6  Postby -1- » March 16th, 2017, 9:17 pm

Eduk wrote:If you have read the book then I have nothing more to add. I value my time.


Sorry, Eduk, for seemingly dissing your favourite books. It's just that I love humour, and sometimes (too often for my liking) I don't notice that my humour is too cutting or purely and down-right insulting to others. This is the curse of the high-functioning autistic like me; I can't predict emotional reactions I incite in others. I can see it after it has been done, the damage, but I can't at all predict this.

I apologize for making light of your favourite books the way I did it.
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Re: Entertainment with or without literary lessons?

Post Number:#7  Postby Mark1955 » March 19th, 2017, 1:56 pm

I think the value of a good work of fiction is that it may challenge your preconceptions in a less adversarial way than non-fiction and in particular encourage you to look at things for another person's perspective. Of course to achieve this you have to be prepared to read broadly.
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Re: Entertainment with or without literary lessons?

Post Number:#8  Postby Eduk » March 19th, 2017, 2:44 pm

Just out of interest which books do you feel are both good and challenge preconceptions the best? Obviously a personal list, I was just wondering.
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Re: Entertainment with or without literary lessons?

Post Number:#9  Postby Mark1955 » March 27th, 2017, 4:42 pm

Eduk wrote:Just out of interest which books do you feel are both good and challenge preconceptions the best? Obviously a personal list, I was just wondering.

Siegfried Sassoon's trilogy that starts with 'Memories of a foxhunting man'. A lot of Jeanette Winterson's early work from The Passion to The Powerbook. several different works by Isaac Asimov, Nightfall is an obvious example, some I can't remember titles, e.g. there's one where two robots discuss how you obey the first law where you cannot prevent all harm and conclude that protecting themselves in breech of the second law may actually be justified under the first law depending on your definition of 'human'. I'm not always good at remembering titles/authors so some of these have to be significant just because I have remembered. I think the aim is to read first person that does not fall into a predictable series, but them maybe for you book seven of a twenty long string of otherwise repetitious detective mysteries may have an additional message; which is why my list is really pointless unless you're trying to psychoanalyse me.
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Re: Entertainment with or without literary lessons?

Post Number:#10  Postby Eduk » March 27th, 2017, 5:57 pm

Haha no. Just looking for some recommendations.
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Re: Entertainment with or without literary lessons?

Post Number:#11  Postby -1- » March 27th, 2017, 8:46 pm

Eduk, if you are looking for recommendations, I suggest you could simply reverse-engineer Hollywood movies made of books. If a movie is great, and you like it, then prob'ly the book ain't bad either.

I can only make one recommendation, which is Terry Pratchett's early novels. They are written on the same pattern, and the characters are the same -- I mean also the bad guys that get eliminated, they are one- or maybe one-and-half dimensional, but some of his lines, paragraphs or themes are brilliant.

I wept through the entire book's second part when I read his "Feet of Clay". It is funny, moving, philosophical and spiritual all at the same time. It talks about Golems... let me not spoil it for you.

He wrote many other good books, but in his mid-career already his main characters became shallow, too, the plot, much too predictable, and the books just drone on and on... the first five-ten books are worth much more than the last thirty.
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Re: Entertainment with or without literary lessons?

Post Number:#12  Postby Eduk » March 28th, 2017, 7:19 am

thanks, I have read almost all the Pratchett novels and more or less agree with your summary, but I'd be less harsh on his last 30. Feet of Clay was 21 by the way :)

I was more thinking of books which challenge preconceptions? But then you could say Pratchett does challenge preconceptions just not often my preconceptions, which I why I said it would obviously be a personal list :)
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Re: Entertainment with or without literary lessons?

Post Number:#13  Postby -1- » March 28th, 2017, 8:06 pm

Eduk, please provide a full or at least a partial list of the preconceptions you wish to be challenged by books. That would make our task somewhat easier. (-:

Here, in my own defence: I read Pratchett's books (the ones I did not abandon) in alphabetical order of title. F is pretty near the beginning, as we all know.
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Re: Entertainment with or without literary lessons?

Post Number:#14  Postby Eduk » March 29th, 2017, 4:05 am

haha, if I knew my preconceptions then they wouldn't be preconceptions (hopefully).
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Re: Entertainment with or without literary lessons?

Post Number:#15  Postby Gamnot » March 30th, 2017, 3:05 pm

I am sure that books and movies and other kinds of art open up a window into human reality in contrast to physical reality in science. I especially like the literature of Franz Kafka. Two of his short stories in particular hold my interest: Josephine the Singer which to my mind is a good word picture of the phenomena of charisma. Also The Burrow which is a good word picture showing what is referred to as the having mode of life in contrast to the being mode of life.
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