Booking Through Thursday:Symbolic or Not?

Question suggested by Barbara H:
My husband is not an avid reader, and he used to get very frustrated in college when teachers would insist discussing symbolism in a literary work when there didn’t seem to him to be any. He felt that writers often just wrote the story for the story’s sake and other people read symbolism into it.

It does seem like modern fiction just “tells the story” without much symbolism. Is symbolism an older literary device, like excessive description, that is not used much any more? Do you think there was as much symbolism as English teachers seemed to think? What are some examples of symbolism from your reading?

Oh this one is making me think very early this morning. I think that symbolism was much heavier in the classics. But I think if you look in the modern fictions that you will find it as well. I will use the Twilight Saga for a moment as it is hot right now, and it is one that I have mostly enjoyed

I believe the basic symbolism in the theme of the Saga is a time tested true one. Love conquers all. Bella and Edward face a lot of horrible differences, a little Romeo & Juliet to be sure but they overcome it all eventually. It also seems to remind people that you have a choice to be good or evil. Vampires I general are considered evil beings. But the Cullen’s have made a choice. That chose to be good, not to kill humans even in a fate that condemns them to a horrible craving they make a choice.

So yes, I think modern books can have symbolism. But I do not think it’s as present as it used to be.

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4 thoughts on “Booking Through Thursday:Symbolic or Not?

  1. I would consider that the theme of the novel. The symbolism might be her truck, it is old and creeky kind of like Forks but she learns to love it anyway.

  2. I agree, I don’t think it is used as much as it used to be in the classics. I think it can be used to great effect, but at it’s best it is obvious without having to be clearly stated. If you have to go over a book minutely trying to search out symbolism, that just kills the enjoyment of it.

  3. Good post. I think the amount of symbolism in books today depends on the genre one is reading. A lot of mainstream fiction doesnt’ rely heavily on classical symbolism. But then, there are many works of literary fiction that use classical references all the time. Doesn’t this question make you wonder how many of the classical authors would answer it? 🙂

    First time to your cool blog!

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