||[Mar. 3rd, 2004|10:35 am]
The Question Club
in world lit class, we've moved into the wonderful world of medieval literature. yay. professor harrison describes beowulf as a typical (or classical, not sure which) germanic adventure story. he read a bit from lotr: two towers to show that tolkien used this type as the basis for his books. we've already been through the sumerian adventure story of gilgamesh and the greek iliad. cultures seem to be defined in their adventure stories. (a note: i'm a little wary of using the term 'epic poem' here. harrison was saying they aren't all epic poems...i'm still a little confused, so i just use 'adventure story'.) what are the typical styles of other cultures? i'm sure at the very least, china has their own to cover stories like romance of the three kingdoms.
between my lit class and my religion class, i've been reevaluating what i consider 'great literature'. or more accurately, i've been looking backwards. instead of looking at how the culture makes the literature, i've been seeing how the literature is indicative of the culture it came from. i don't know how exactly, but i find literature more enjoyable when i see it as a piece of the cultural puzzle rather than an end product. so my question is (and it's a biggie), what works are considered the best literature for the different cultures and eras? for example, lady murasaki's tale of genji for feudal japan, the arthurian romances for early medieval england, cervantes' don quixote for renaissance spain. would you agree with my choices? do you include religious texts (as i would) in with the works of great literature or would you keep it separate?