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On “Good” Literature

Last night, my mom and I were discussing the relative merits of Louis L’Amour; somewhat fortuitously, today I came across a letter from Edgar Rice Burroughs to a 14-year-old kid whose teacher had some rather unkind things to say about Mr. Burroughs’s oeuvre. Here’s the money paragraph:

My stories will do you no harm. If they have helped to inculcate in you a love of books, they have done you much good. No fiction is worth reading except for entertainment. If it entertains and is clean, it is good literature, or its kind. If it forms the habit of reading, in people who might not read otherwise, it is the best literature.

Hard to disagree with that.



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