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American Literature Will Never Be As Good As World Literature – Op-Ed Piece
Americans have a strange relationship with books. We are all literate, yet we’d rather go to the movies. We like to read physical books, as we are all addicted to our phones. We all complain about our education system, yet that is where we all learn how to read. America has the largest library in the history of the world, yet that same world calls Americans stupid.
Yeah, Americans and books don’t see eye to eye. Even the very imagery of America never has much to do with reading or knowledge. Think of all the symbols of the land of the free, and how long down the list do you need to go before one of those symbols has to do with literature? One of the most profound governments ever created by some of the smartest men ever alive at one time was somehow also a part of one of the dumbest countries the world has seen. Some of the smartest people ever were Americans, unfortunately so were some of the dumbest.
American society has gotten to the point where we hold up a few writers for the rest of the world to prove our interest in the craft. But then, understandably, we put the writers down because holding up a human being can get quite exhausting. These writers, who are more often in the ground than the air, compose American literature. And I do believe that it is quite good, and I have even written of a few of them on this blog, but there is a problem that America has to face with our books.
Will we ever love books more than blockbusters? Can we decide about physical over e-books? What’s the deal with education? And if we are so stupid, why is our library so damn big? All fair questions, and all questions I am not going to answer today.
I will discuss one question, though.
I believe that the American literature section will never be hailed as one of the best out there over a period of time. And for one reason: the government.
Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Am I blaming the government for literature now too? Don’t we all blame the politicians for everything already, like the vaccine, the war, the war against the vaccine, the housing problem, the racial tensions, the mental issues, the spiritual indifference of the masses, and so much more? Putting the words of the bestsellers on them is a little much. Yeah, it is. (But hey, what is one more problem caused by politicians?)
Just stay with me here.
I am not blaming the government for doing something immoral or bad, like hiding knowledge of aliens or a possible pedophilia ring going around. I mean, those things could be going on, but I am not sure since this blog is about stories, not that stuff. Instead, the government is getting the blame here because the very system we use to function as a society doesn’t actually benefit stories over the long haul.
What do I mean? There will never be a state-sponsored program that demands that the best writers and artists in the country produce stories based on one topic. We don’t do that because of democracy. I don’t know if I had to spell that one out, but there you go. The freedom that allows writers to say what they will is also the freedom that may restrict their greatness.
Other countries focus their efforts on creating stories around one thing. The ironic part of democracy is that it never gets all the best people together in one room because some talented people won’t be involved in the actual government. And even if they did get all the bright minds together, there is a small chance they’d all accept the idea of one story or narrative constantly being at the forefront of American culture. The very idea of America is for everyone to have a fair shot, but this also means the shot will never be the same.
Over time, will America focus our attention on creating great tales of a few individuals or by making a few classics even better? No. That is not what the country is about. We trade cohesion of creative minds for the freedom of those minds.
The closest thing I have seen this happen is with the Founding Fathers and how those stories of Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin are so well-known that Americans are forced to reinvent them in new ways. Yet, even this is not from a narrow-focused effort, but one writer or company producing something around the Revolution.
The American government doesn’t go out of its way to help pro-American stories.
I think that is why Homer’s books lasted for so long. Yes, they were good. Yes, they were beloved. But you know what they were also? Government-sponsored. The people in charge made sure the citizens knew the stories of Homer. They pushed it. That doesn’t happen in America.
If America doesn’t do it like the Greeks or the European monarchs (they did it too), what are we left to do? My theory is that American literature will stay the same as it is now, defined by a few great writers creating original works for that period of time rather than enhancing a previously loved government-aided story. America hopes that every generation can produce enough talent who can then be put on the wall of classic writers. Regardless of the genre they write, these people will then be promoted as the classics of that era, since remember they aren’t in line with the previous generation's work.
What happens if, for some reason, American doesn’t produce enough great writers? Can that actually happen? It is very unlikely because we live in a modern industrialized tech-savvy country of 320 million people, giving writers in America an advantage over others.
Why America Will Never Run Out Of Great Writers
Population – America’s population is larger than basically every other country in the world, besides China and India. If you find an audience in America, you will be set.
Modern – By being modern with its way of life, the writer in America doesn’t have to worry about certain things that writers in other countries have to constantly worry about. For example, the American writer doesn’t need to worry about their house being bombed or walking 5 miles to get some water. These luxuries benefit the American writer.
Tech-savvy – The American writer can produce stories quicker than others by having the most up-to-date technology.
The American literature scene will never be deemed as great as the others, not because of the lack of talent, or the vision, or even the work ethic of the native writers, but because American writers always present the world as they see it, rather than all of them coming together with one direction or story in mind. That is the price that America pays for freedom, I suppose.
Expect us to talk about featuring authors and others in the literary community in the coming months. We are going to try to have more of those types of pieces on the blog.
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About The Blogger
Greg Luti is an editor and blogger on pensandwords.com. His favorite writers are Robert Frost and Charles Bukowski. He enjoys reading up on history, watching comedies, and playing video games, when he is not writing down a few notes for his next piece. He started this blog out of his love for literature and hopes that the reader shares that same passion.
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