Swirski is the author of twelve books of American literature and culture, Stanislaw Lem , and theory of knowledge. Having gone through several printings, the book is by now a staple in American popular culture studies. It furnishes a series of analyses of the relation of popular fiction to high literary culture. In his work, Swirski challenges the highbrow vs lowbrow categorization of literary culture, and popular culture in general by focusing attention on what he terms the nobrow taste culture, whereby "authors simultaneously target both extremes of the literary spectrum".

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Start your review of From Lowbrow to Nobrow Write a review May 23, Bear rated it it was amazing Peter Swirskis From Lowbrow to Nobrow is a typical culture study that doesnt limit itself to literature alone. It also involves a survey of book publishing and selling, and a discussion of genres, aesthetics and others. What is the tenor behind all this? In a word, doing justice to popular fiction that has become too predominant to ignore. The death of the book?

Swirski soon proves it a modern myth by the use of ample and convincing data indicating that far from dwindling the book publishing and selling have kept growing either in absolute number or per capita since WWII. But why this myth? Hence, He sets out to expose the cultural myopia and bigotry entertained against ubiquitous popular fiction and at the same time turn down many a groundless critique on popular fiction. He goes one step further by defining aesthetics of popular fiction that necessarily is of different kind from that of the highbrow.

Justice is done. This time Swirski pushes forward with his study slowly but surely, towards making his points. And the points he has made do solve our problems. My generation in China witnessed the high popularity of Kongfu fiction and romantic fiction, the former championed by Jin Yong a Hongkong writer while the latter by the Taiwanese Qiong Yao. In my school years, every boy read Jin and every girl Qiong, but not without feeling guilty.

Our teachers and parents would say that it was bad or even harmful to read Kongfu rubbish and obscene love stories. Suspicions about them have kept up ever since. Literature or not? Swirski urges us to shake off the aesthetics of canon and instead take on new aesthetics by which to view popular fiction. That is, literature should entertain well and fulfill the art of compromising highbrow and lowbrow and blurring genres. Still half of the story. Swirski also assures us that popular fiction is no more degenerate than the highbrow canon in terms of value or moral.

Indeed, most Kongfu and romantic fictions teach positive values as well, such as integrity, valor, goodness, patriotism and nationalism, faithfulness, endurance, honesty, dignity and so on. Certainly, they teach them in no self-important tone. Today, popular fictions are still underrated popular as they are. Doyle and Agatha Christie are simply excluded from a literary history; that Jin Yong enters into a certain middle school textbook is still a disputable phenomenon in China.

But as long as it continues to entertain, educate and change people, popular fiction should be recognized and justified as a cultural fact.

Hopefully, timely justice has been done to it by Swirski. Dec 21, Koko rated it it was amazing This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Lowbrow to Nobrow should become an textbook in the library where literature is taught. Not what I was looking for so closing early.


From Lowbrow to Nobrow



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