Which one of the following quotations about literature best exemplifies the "familiar" attitude mentioned in lines 5—9?

Sangwook on May 26, 2014


I am totally lost in this question. What does this question mean and why the answer goes to (c)?

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Melody on May 31, 2014

This question asks us which answer choice best exemplifies (i.e. illustrates or represents) the "familiar" attitude that is mentioned in lines 5-9.

Let's look at the lines. Whenever specific lines are given to us, it's a good idea to read a few lines above and below. So let's read through lines 1-10. The first sentence explains how there are generally two types of criticisms attributed to the novels of P.D. James: (1) overemphasizing or exaggerating her merits as a writer; and (2) castigating (i.e. admonishing or criticizing) her as a mere genre writer who gets above herself (i.e. who thinks she is more important than she really is). The second sentence delves further into her criticisms stating that it is possible that what underlies this binary criticism is the "familiar, false opposition set up between different kinds of fiction, according to which enjoyable novels are held to be somehow true literature unless it is a tiny bit dull."

So we are told that for some reason there is a common/familiar misconception that enjoyable novels are more lowbrow or intellectually undemanding, while those novels considered to be true literature must be slightly less exciting--great literature must be slightly dull (i.e. not attention diverting).

Thus, answer choice (C) "A truly great work of literature should place demands upon its readers, rather than divert them," represents the "familiar" attitude mentioned in lines 5-9.

Hope this helps! Please let us know if you have any other questions.

Sangwook on May 31, 2014

Thanks a lot!!^^