But I didn’t care. These kind of inauthentic representations taken from the barest bones of a literary character or plot fascinate me. If our postmodern society tries to say anything at all, which is arguable, it’s that expectations and attitudes can be built on the sparest of reasons and, perhaps the next day, these expectations and attitudes won’t exist at all. A waiter can take a book, a girl, a latte and assume something about the situation that is true today, but won’t be true tomorrow.
This idea is particularly true in the field of literary criticism. I’ve always been curious about why many literary critics are essentially on the search for the authentic. Writers must have the background--specifically the regional origin, the sexuality, the ethnicity, the gender--that gives them and their work a perceived genuineness. Furthermore, if authors didn’t claim allegiance to a group into which scholars feel they fit in their lifetimes, these scholars will attempt to categorize them anyway. Simultaneously, authors given this authenticity authority are also charged with the impossible duty of representing the entirety of the marginalized group of which they are a part. If novelists strayed from their perceived areas of expertise, they are again charged with inauthenticity. For example, scholars claim that Willa Cather, a purported lesbian author, was unable to write a convincing “marriage plot” because of her own sexuality.
In addition, literature is saddled with an intended readership, essentially the group that has the possibility to receive the author’s intended—read, truest--message. Misreadings of certain characters in literature can create myths, stereotypes or “types” that have ramifications in material culture, specifically creating a romanticized nostalgia in fields outside of literature entirely. This is why you can’t read a sad book alone in a coffee shop without the waiters fearing that you’ll return home to slit your wrists.