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Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Are Alice and the Hobbit high?

I was having a look around over on Good Reads .com recently, and was surprised to find the top fore volumes in their ‘Highbrow Fantasy Books’ section listed in descending order as: ‘Lord of the rings,’ ‘Wattership down,’ ‘The Hobbit,’ and finally
‘Alice in wonderland and Through the looking-glass.’
So that makes two of my all-time favourite books and two others that I would consider to have mass-market appeal listed as ‘Highbrow.’ ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘Alice,’ highbrow, seriously?

I’m not sure what this says for the general readership nowadays if people generally see these books as highbrow. Is it just that they are seen to be older now? Does old equal stuffy, equals highbrow?

I still have my ‘Never Mind the Bollocks’ album by the ‘Sex Pistols,’ that’s old. Does that make it highbrow also… is it now the preserve of the intellectual, educated, scholarly, and cultured classes? I think not. Classic maybe, I could live with classic.

So conversely what is considered lowbrow, and who would happily admit to being a ‘lowbrow’ reader?
Seriously though am I the only one that finds this a rather sad state of affairs? Or am I just getting the wording of this wrong somehow? It seems pretty clear in meaning to me, but I’ve been wrong before. Am I missing something? Are these books considered to be of that strange and misunderstood ilk called ‘literature’ and is all literature considered to be highbrow?

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