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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Guy Goodman St.White Reviews The Divine Comedy--More Genre Nonsense

Good Evening.  Guy Goodman St.White here, and I'll be your exceedingly British-accented host.  I do want to apologize for that little tantrum I threw last month.  I may seem to be completely poised most of the time, but sometimes I go back to my primate origins and I simply want to fling my feces at terrible writing and howl.  How can I seriously be the only one who understands what actual good writing is?  I guess here in the Ivory Tower we just know what everyone ought to like, even though they don't. Some days it's just so difficult to wake up in the morning and face the cold, hard truth about just how much speculative fiction makes up the canon, and how well-intentioned, but ultimately ignorant, troglodyte plebs actually feel that much of this speculative tripe is literature.

You know what REALLY involves speculation?
What happens after we die, that's what.
Case in point, the works of Dante Alighieri are largely considered to be one of the greatest works of world literature and Italy's preeminent work.  This is of course, the opinion only of those who tolerate protagonists running around in perhaps the most unrealistic setting an author could possibly write: the afterlife.

You would think 12 century Italy didn't have any seedy buildings which Dante could have grounded an actual meaningful work of realism.  Surely in Italy of all places there are stories of sexuality in question and intolerant parents! Instead, since he couldn't be arsed with a genuine exploration of realism, he insisted upon clinging to the most unrealistic journey he could conceive of.  Literally.

Though Dante's Inferno is the most oft cited, referenced, and read of his works, it really comprises only 1/3 the work.  Each of three canticas (each with 33 cantos) describe a different part of the afterlife--hell,  purgatory, and paradise in true genre style.  He has dead poets as guides, meets people long dead, presumes to know who's going to hell (a list which seems intended chiefly to offend everyone ever), and basically stumbles around in a Thomas Aquinas theological infomercial.  The whole thing is supposed to be some allegory for approaching God--as if that's a theme for real literature.

Genre crap drips off of every one of the 14,233 lines of this abomination to real literature.  Honestly folks, there isn't much further you can get away from the human condition.  If this had been about death itself, we might have had something to work with, but it's about what happens after that...which is as far from human experience as a setting can really get.

I mean that in absolutely the most literal sense and not as hyperbole.  This journey of religious wish-fulfillment high fantasy into a place no one has ever been or ever will be, meeting people no one has met or ever will meet again, and doing things no one has ever done (and we only pause from saying "or ever will do" because of the death threats) is as divorced from realism as is possible to write about.  Apparently Italy's preeminent literary author can't even figure out that realism is what makes for real literature.  So instead we end up with preeminent Italian speculative crap that is actually so damned unrealistic that it makes me yearn for the gritty settings of an elven castle or an intergalactic cruiser to get the taste out of my mouth.

Plus....it's not even that funny!  You would think any "comedy" worthy of the label "divine" would have a FEW more humorous bits.

And people think this Dante hack could write.  That's the real travesty of this whole thing.  It's a good thing I'm so damned educated and I can tell you all why you're so wrong to enjoy speculative fiction.  It's a very, very good thing indeed.

Again, I'm Guy Goodman St.White, and thank you for joining me here on Writing About Writing.  Please join me next month for another segment of Speculative Fiction Sucks Balls: And Not In the Good Way.  Good night.

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