Monday, October 11, 2010

What Do You Consider Genius?

Happy Monday All,

JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, Dr. Suess, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Shakespeare, Charlotte Bronte (and her sisters)...what do all these names have in common?

They're literary giants.

Their writing is considered genius and in some cases, even innovative. They paid their dues, and whether in life or in death, their names are recognizable by the majority of humanity.

What makes someone a literary genius/giant?

Sometimes it's the writing itself. Sometimes the topic. In other cases, the characters or the plot might just give them that edge.

It may not be everything in their novels/non-fiction (I know CS Lewis wrote some Non Fiction) that shoot them into stardom, but something about their writing makes us quote them, admire them, study them and read them over and over--generation after generation.

None of them are alive to give interviews, to tell us how they did it...we have to rely on other writings, any recorded interviews they did, or any journals they left behind. We can't email them and say "Hey Shakespeare, how did you do that?" We have to rely on history and what's written (or in CS Lewis and Tolkien cases, perhaps, recorded) to dissect their writing.

But something just clicks.

Recently I read a couple of books by Nancy Gideon. (Thanks go to author Anna Kathryn Lanier and her blog, for picking me as  a winner on her blog comment contest--it was a nice surprise and the first 2 Moonlight series books were part of the prize). While perhaps not everything in Nancy Gideon's Moonlight series intrigues me, there was a few things that did.

Her character, Max Savoie, is one. If ever there was a complex hero that didn't fit the usual description of "hero" it would be Savoie. It also means that his loyalties get tested, he's got a big fat, invisible target painted on his back, and he has to balance the fact that he's on the wrong side of the law when it comes to the love of his life, Detective Charlotte Caissie. She's a pretty good character, too, but I get the feeling Savoie has more secrets...more things in his background to discover. Maybe I'm wrong, but that's the feeling I get. I haven't read the third book, but the first two I had trouble putting down.

Like I said, not everything in her novels intrigued me, but she definitely got my attention with what is going on around Savoie and what his character just might be--and also whether or not Savoie and Caissie will be able to stay together. (Although, generally in Romance there is a happily ever after, but it doesn't mean that sometimes you don't wonder if it really will happen!)

I don't know if Nancy Gideon's work will be considered genius for future generations, but as far as a contemporary author is concerned, she's pretty good at drawing you into the story and having fascinating characters and plot lines.

So, what makes a literary genius in your eyes? What grabs you and refuses to let go when you're reading a book?

Have A Mysterious (in a good way) Monday!


Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Hi, Bethany. I'm so glad you like your prize package books and that you found a new writer.

I'm not sure I've ever thought of 'what makes a literary genius.' I guess someone who appeals to a large, diverse audience. Personally, I love Mary Balogh. She has a very unique voice that I wish I could copy...lol.

Bethany said...


Thanks for dropping by--real sweet of you. I've never read Mary Balogh. Might have to pick up a book of hers one day. Again, thanks for coming by and commenting & for the prize package :-)