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Pte 70 Score Essay on “What Types of Fiction do you Enjoy reading and Why?”

What Types of Fiction do you Enjoy reading and Why?


The reading of fiction is escapism, but not in any bad sense. To read is more positive than to watch television, because the visual nature of TV limits the imagination. Reading also excels radio listening, partly because the listener has no choice in the programs, and partly because the quality of radio programs is so uneven. There is a world of fiction available to occupy the reader’s spare time, so much so that he or she can be ultra-selective in following personal taste. It is perhaps true to say that a good library is one of the finest assets a community can possess. Failing a library, paperbacks are usually available.

Reading opens windows on the world, whether past or present, and most people enjoy looking through these windows. Robert Graves’ novels I, Claudius and Claudius the god reveal the Imperial Roman Empire, just as his Goodbye to all that reveals the horrors of the First World War.

It may be this quality which distinguishes great from mediocre fiction. Tolstoy’s War and Peace reveal the Napoleonic struggle, whereas Jane Austen’s Persuasion being a study of the mannered relationships of early 18th century English country gentry merely gives the Napoleonic Wars a mention. So are we looking for people’s reactions to a great sweep of national events, the sort we find in Pasternak’s Dr Zhivago, with it’s comments on the Russian system, or are we looking for an encapsulated set of personal relationships? Perhaps, from time to time, we enjoy both.

Our choice of fiction also depends on mood. Perhaps, after a hard day in the office, we need to read something out of this world. What about Mr. Clarke’s space fiction? Or perhaps it is something light and amusing. There is a whole world of this kind of fiction. Again, tastes vary. For this writer, the Atlantic Ocean is a great divide as far as humor is concerned, just as the Australian reader would see nothing funny in an English novel which I think hilarious. This argues that humor has to be related to a known background. The Englishman laughs at the James Herriott stories, because the adventures of this veterinary surgeon relate exclusively to provincial English characters. The American would be puzzled. However, a gifted raconteur like David Niven sells equally well on both sides of the pond. In The moon’s a balloon and Go slowly, come back quickly, he pins down the foibles of both nations, to the delight of both, because he has spent much of his working life in Hollywood, and has absorbed both backgrounds.

Most people enjoy a good thriller, and some, horror stories. Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories set the horror trend. He was followed by a host of others, notably Dennis Wheatley, and more latterly by people like Blatty, who wrote the terrifying novel The Exorcist. The real trend, however, is for the good whodunnit, because the acts of violence are no more than pegs on which to hang intellectual solutions. Violence is never dwelt on for its own sake. This is the popular Agatha Christie genre, followed by dozens of other writers, some highly gifted, such as Georges Simenon.

There are, among many others, three genres which in the 20th century have had a great following. The outward-bound adventure thriller, represented by Alistair MacLean and Hammond Innes; the spectrum of spy mysteries, based on the machinations of MI6, the KGB and the CIA, John LeCarre being a very able exponent, and a whole group of modern novels based on carefully-researched subjects such as airports, hotels and banks. This short essay does not mention the Classics, perhaps because the student may associate them too closely with examinations. However, they are still read for pleasure, and one should not forget that they were the popular literature of their day, and were often denied the literary status conferred on them by subsequent generations.


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