Dill Carver wrote:
I know that the definition of 'Literary Fiction' as a classification across genres has been done to death in the tNBW forums over the years;
Continental European (that is to say, to have also included Irish/U.K., James Joyce and Samuel Becket, et al.) literary fiction is 'experimental' and therefore non-commercial in the U.K and U.S. markets, and apart from Ayn Rand and John Updike, et al. in the the first half of the 20th century, I'd say there is no such thing as Literary Fiction, only commercial versus noncommercial to U.S. publishers. 'Literary Fiction' has to do, for the most part, with a diminished value of plot and 'characterization' and with exaggerated value of words for words' sake, theme and purpose. That is not 'literary' so much as ars gratia artis and certainly not so much 'experimental' (Updike, to a degree an exception) but standing in class different than a TV or movie script. Such novels do not, in fact, make good movies unless stripped down to typical plot and characterization elements. I just saw the 1972 movie of A Separate Peace, based on the John Knowles novel of the same name and Charly based on Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes, and all the characters and plot elements were there, but the movies were not up to the quality for the same appreciation.
My standard for Literary fiction:
The skillful literary-fiction author, one who might just also be commercial, is one who mimicks fiction to present to the intellectually intransigent the universe as it is, not how that obstinate ignoramus envisages it to be through his imprecise and distorted perceptions and self-delusions. This author will always fail to satisfy the ossified expectations of the intransigent but will incidentally leave behind a work of art for everyone else to enjoy. And yes, that is hierarchically 'good' over 'commercial'.
Dill Carver wrote:
Are writers actually aware of the differences between paraliterature (or genre fiction) and literature of the recognized canon,
I should add that mostly in the U.K in the 1960's there was an attempt to revive good versus commercial literature by that classification of 'Literary Fiction' somewhat by writing in the Olde Style meeting the criterion of strong theme and important rather than ordinary or believable characters. That failed by the end of the 1980's. The trend of increasing novel-purchasing readership by women to today's overwhelming proportions has much to do with this; even with the notable exception of Doris Lessing, but also whose best works ended by the 1980's.