The article "Books We Hate to Love" showed up in the LA Times today. Londoner Stephen Bayley reports that the (London) Times described Dan Brown's TDVC as "without doubt the silliest, most inaccurate, ill-informed, stereotype-driven, cloth-eared, cardboard-cutout-populated piece of pulp fiction." But because so many people have been "severely entertained" by the book we might consider it "good bad" literature: not serious literature but with good qualities; Bayley writes that "Orwell said Uncle Tom's Cabin would outlive Virginia Woolf. He found that you could be amused or excited by what the intellect despises." (Juxtapose this with "bad good" literature which is intended to be serious but is not well received; as Bayley describes "the ones written with high artistic purpose that fail.")
TDVC is neither "good bad" literature nor is it "bad good" literature -- it is "bad bad". It is the addict's heroin.
Stephen Bayley's worst sin was pimping TDVC by summoning Uncle Gilbert: "The good bad critical label can be traced to G.K. Chesterton, inspired by the extraordinary number of very bad books, ripe with imperial pomp, scintillating with sexually repressed jingoism, that were published in the Edwardian era. But boorish pulp can be enjoyable. Bad can be good."
But wrong can never be right.
5 days ago