Monthly Archives: January 2014

Back Channel on Didactic Novels

Back Channel is an anonymous reader who often suggests books and themes related to Politerature:

“I was just reading this Wikipedia entry about a 2002 book, When the Emperor Was Divine, which tells the story of a Japanese family’s internment during WWII. Thought you may be interested in this line, since it illustrates a lot of what Politerature explores: Writing for The New York Times, literary critic Michiko Kakutani states ‘though the book is flawed by a bluntly didactic conclusion, the earlier pages testify to the author’s lyric gifts and narrative poise.’

“Haven’t read the book, but am guessing its conclusion spells out something political in no uncertain terms. Personally, I love it when an author is blunt. Over the years, I’ve had discussions about books in and out of classes where they were assigned. People interpret things differently, and not everyone gets the political points an author is trying to convey. So I feel being ‘bluntly didactic’ is necessary just so everyone is on the same page and fully gets what the author is saying. I don’t understand this requirement that literature always be subtle, especially when it comes to politics. Of course, I also appreciate a tale spun with lyricism, ‘narrative poise,’ and all that. But I love a good firm punch to the intellect by an author in order to make sure readers are getting it.

“This is funny: I looked up ‘didactic’ in my American Heritage Dictionary and this was given as an example of the first definition: ‘a didactic novel that set out to expose social injustice.'”

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