Booking Through Thursday – Symbolic? Or Not?

April 23, 2009 at 12:58 pm 1 comment


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?

I agree that is seems that modern fiction typically tells a story and that the author has not filled the book with symbolism, at least this is true about the books I read. Although, I am sure that some authors will place symbolism in books, whether or purpose or not and I have missed it.

It seems to me that symbolism was used more frequently in older books and much less today. I also think that most people just want to read a book for pleasure, and not dig too deep into what may or may not be going on in the background. Of course, some people love to dig deeper and there are authors that cater to this crowd. It seems that there is always so much going on in everyone’s lives that they just want to pick up a book to read it, not to look for symbolism. And since this is what sells, this is what is written.

This is very general, and I am not saying that authors only write what people buy, it just seems that symbolism is something that has fainted away and because there is not much of a market for it, it is not seen as frequently.

Check out more responses at Booking Through Thursday.


Entry filed under: Books. Tags: , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Popin  |  April 23, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    I saw the same thing mentioned at another blog. I don’t think symbolism is dead persay, but after reading her post and yours, I do agree that we’re reading more for pleasure than symbolic value these days.

    ~ Popin


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