Yesterday's Stories are Today's Stories

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"There's no such thing as a wholly original work of literature."

Fosters statement, though undeniably true, is one that I had never before contemplated.  Each book ever written is based on concepts from either prior books, poems, movies, plays, or previous life experiences.  From the Bible to the Lord of the Rings triology, the ideas of good and evil, treatment of minorities, love, etc. are evident in all forms of story-telling.  

However, I find that the earlier "classics" are significantly more often referenced than modern-day novels.  One might see that the infamous characters and plots of Shakepeare, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Fitzergerald, and Hawthorne are much more well-known than those of newer authors like James Patterson, James Brown, and Nora Roberts.

Though some might say that the former authors were more talented than the latter, I beg to differ.  I believe that it is not the quality of the novel which makes it so utterly irresistible, but rather the content.  Earlier writers had the opportunities to capture day to day life experiences as well as common views at the time and innovatively place them into a context with their own added "flare."  Today's authors have the same concepts to work with, so thus no matter how creative their story is, it can always be traced back to prior works of literature.    

Thus, today's author's, poets, and movie writers have amazing option to use infamous works of literature and incorporate them into their works.  This aha!factor, as Foster calls it, is what draws readers to not only finish the book/poem/movie, but also gives them reason to read/watch more of the writers creations.  



4 Comments

I agree with you on the fact that the authors such as Conan Doyle, Shakespeare, and Fitzgerald aren't necessarily better than the authors today because the content is different, yet similar. But they are written in two completely different ways. While yes the older ones have more romantic language sometimes I believe literature today is easier for us to understand because we live now and we know the lingo that they use. But in many ways they are all similar, we just don't understand how sometimes.

Carlos Peredo said:

If you stop for a moment and think about literature as something that doesn't include popular fiction, things seem to get quite interesting. For the record, I consider popular fiction to be literature, but think for a moment that it doesn't.

If you limit literature only to pieces that comment on the more serious topics such as the nature of man (Kafka), government (Wizard of Oz), a historical time period (Fitzgerald) and other concepts such as these, you become hard pressed to think of writers of literature in the modern day.

It seems to me like all of todays authors are trying to become a best seller and tell a wonderful story, which is all fun and good; I love reading them. But can you think of any current authors that go beyond telling a story and have some deeper meaning?

I feel like all of the best sellers are Harry Potter and Twilight...

Christopher Dufalla said:

It seems rather sensible to conclude that time has been on the side of Shakespeare, Fitzgerald, and the like. Time has churned their works into a perpetual pad of butter. The themes, ideas and elements of these stories are continuously spread across the fresh slices of newer works of literature. It is also fair to say that just because they're older that doesn't mean that they're necessarily better than anything out there today. It's just that they have had much more time to gain popularity.

Joshua Wilks said:

I think chris really made a good point about the fact that they havent had as much time to gain popularity as they older works.
While the ideas behind literature tend to be the same the ideas of good and evil, treatment of minorities, love, etc. the way in which they are presented is very different. A book like the Lord of the rings or Harry Potter presents these concepts from an almost strictly entertainment perspective, where we see a more obvious and direct presentation of these concepts in other works.

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