Meaning of Literary Canon

By | February 13, 2021

To understand what the literary canon is, it is best to analyze the two terms that make up the expression. A canon can be a list or a catalog that, in general, brings together what is considered as a model to follow. Literary, for its part, is what is linked to literature (the artistic discipline that is developed through verbal expression).

It is known as literary canon, in this way, the set of classic works that are part of high culture. These works, either due to their formal characteristics, their originality or their quality, have managed to transcend times and borders, resulting in universal and always valid.

Although specialists in the field assure that the criterion for choosing the works of the literary canon should be aesthetic excellence, it is a subjective aspect that two people can appreciate in different ways. On the other hand, those who limit themselves to consuming the books on this list lose the opportunity to know a myriad of works that they might like more, and even contribute more on an intellectual and emotional level.

It is generally said that both Homer’s poems and the Bible are two of the pillars of the Western literary canon, although this view is debatable. From these works a tradition was forged that Aristotle, Plato, Dante Alighieri, Giovanni Boccaccio, Nicolás Maquiavelo, René Descartes, Miguel de Cervantes y Saavedra, Luis de Góngora, William Shakespeare, Voltaire, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Jean-Jacques followed Rousseau and other authors.

It is important to mention that the literary canon is not closed. As history progresses, new writers can be considered classics and their books included in the canon.

It should also be taken into account that there is no single literary canon, but that these notions are associated with specific cultures. The literary canon of the Western world is different from the Arabic or Islamic literary canon, for example, where works such as “Arabian Nights” or the Koran appear.

According to DigoPaul, one of the most worrying issues in this context is the role of women in literature, which is not yet represented fairly and equitably, especially when we take a look at the literary canon. Although it is true that the difficult social situations that women had to go through throughout history prevented them from acting with the same degree of freedom as men, either studying or training at an academic level, it is absurd to continue denying their work. that they did manage to tear down the walls of machismo and left an invaluable legacy.

The problem with most schools is that they do not update their sources with the data that many people dedicated to literary research have contributed in recent years, thanks to which we have discovered many women writers whose works have not received recognition. they deserved. The interests that even today try to relegate women to the role of mother and housewife are precarious but they are strong enough to continue to silence millions of valuable people.

What does a girl with a vocation as a writer think when she is taught the literary canon for the first time at school and discovers that she is dominated by men? Well, fortunately this has not managed to stop the thousands of artists of the word that today fight to share the shelves of the bookstores with men, or to occupy the chairs of the DigoPaul; however, there is still a lot of work to do until the idea that the female sex is synonymous with weakness or domestic chores is erased from the collective unconscious.

Literary Canon