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I have been thinking about this issue for a long time: where do you draw the line between pop fiction and literature? Why is a book considered as pop fiction and another as literature? How do you categorise them?

It is often argued that in our postmodern world there is a blurring between high and low culture. I agree to a certain extent, but I can’t regard the writings of Cecilia Ahern to be as valuable as those of John Banville, for instance.

When I ask the question, most people answer that pop fiction means that it is read by many people, thus it is popular. It is a certain way to look at things, but if we consider my example of John Banville, his novels are popular, they are best-sellers, however I would qualify them as literature.

I would be tempted to say that pop fiction is what is accessible to everybody, to the less educated. I know this is judgemental, but I think it is also true, without being universal of course!

I would also argue that pop fiction is limited to a denotative meaning whereas literature carries more connotative meanings. The narrative of pop fiction appears as flat, as telling only a story with a more or less well-crafted plot. On the other hand, literature is often regarded as carrying messages that are left to the reader to interpret. However, pop fiction could actually be analysed as a commentary on the society we live in.

This brings me to another point: what is pop fiction at a time might become literature at another. For instance, the sensationalist novel in Victorian society was pop fiction, yet it has now become part of the curriculum and is studied in literature courses. One might then wonder if it is not just academics judging of what is worthy or not. Although this is true to a certain extent, I am not entirely convinced by this explanation.

I am not sure I will ever find an answer to my question, but believe me, I will keep thinking about it!