What exactly transcends a book into a literary masterpiece? Some might say it is the historical value while others might argue the imagination in the story. I say it is a little of both. “History is what we make out of memory. Fiction flees libraries and loves lies” (Ozick, 2006). While some books shape history, other books define it. Both genres can easily be masterpieces. Analyzing literary masterpieces allows a reader to draw parallels between real-life situations and fiction to form ideas and thoughts as it relates to society. Both genres of literature provide relevant information. History provides us with real accounts of details while fiction provides us with ideas that can be used in society. While each is undeniably different, they both serve a greater purpose of shaping how society works.
History versus Fiction
The expectations of a masterpiece depend on the expectations of the reader. If the reader expects nothing, he or she will receive nothing. However, if the reader chooses a book with interest, he or she will find valuable information to enrich life. Some readers choose a book for the historical value. An author wrote, “To whatever degree, history is that which is owed to reality” (Ozick, 2006). The writer has the historical details already written for him or her. It is up to the writer to use literary devices to enrich the details with colorful language. Fiction, however, can change or even rewrite history. Ozick says, “Fiction has license to do anything it pleases. Fiction is liberty at its purest” (2006). Writers are under no obligation to tell the truth or write history as it happened. There is more freedom to use words as they so choose. It is the choice of the reader as to which genre he or she chooses to read. Both genres hold great appeal to the reader. One such historical book that is hailed as a masterpiece is “Diary of a Young Girl” that tells of Anne Frank’s account and experience during the Holocaust. The local government suppressed details during World War II wanting to deny the seriousness of the Holocaust. Anne Frank wrote her diary during a time when she and her family were in hiding and, therefore, held more facts about what Jews experienced. People hailed the book as a fact-filled account that represented the Holocaust experience. Because people craved the truth omitted from historical documents, her diary became a masterpiece. When reading this book, the reader will feel her sadness and even bits of happiness as she was able to stay with her family. A reader expects to read of the suffering as her struggles are real and accurate for that period. The reader finds so much more as the pages turn. The reader will find the suffering but also finds her sense of determination. A renown author on Anne Frank wrote that the Diary of a Young Girl relays the thoughts of, “adolescents who are filled with the idealism and optimism of youth, who dream of future lives with meaning, and who wish to go on living…even after death” (Kopf, 1997). Her death in 1945 ended her dreams, but her diary allowed others to continue to dream for her. That signifies the difference between a book and a masterpiece. Her words are not for entertainment but to challenge the world not to forget. Her account during the Holocaust was a fact-filled historical account that provided a clear vision of that period. The imagery used by Frank was her reality and a sense of vision that allows the reader to envision her life again through her words.
Many fiction based books were not written based on facts, but a sense of what Holocaust victims probably faced. While not accurate, it still provides a relevant idea of what survivors encountered during that period. Both accounts help society to understand the significance of World War II and suffering Jews endured. The expectations of the reader are about enlightening more than entertaining. The book chosen to read often helps the reader find clarification within one’s own life.
Literary masterpieces should reflect the writer’s knowledge and intent. If a writer has the first-hand experience, it will reflect the historical value of society. However, if an author has ideas about the subject, the writer would write fiction. These books should fit the genre it represents. For instance, if the book is a historical account, it should reflect details, proof, and supporting evidence. It should not have opinions or non-fact based information. It may be written from the author’s standpoint but represents the historical facts. Fiction, however, can change our ideas about history by adding details that are imaginative. There is no rule about history’s portrayal. The reader is going to understand the difference between fact-based and fiction. While historical accounts may seem repetitive, fiction can be entertaining and fun. It is the writer’s use of literary devices such as the use of metaphors, similes, and imagery to paint a description for the reader. In doing so, it helps shape our vision within society. Literature helps develop society’s ideas and thoughts about a period or atmosphere. It describes the base within society whether it is fiction or non-fiction genre. It is a reaction by society about the literature that reflects how a book becomes a masterpiece. Masterpieces often reflect values and morals within society, both good and bad. It is these masterpieces that shape our laws, politics, and culture in general. Analyzing masterpieces help us reflect and form society.
The reader must have a clear vision about the genre chosen. The value of the information should also be precise. Analyzing different styles helps shape our ideas and thoughts. It also allows the reader to use the information in society to influence decisions. While it is ultimately the decision of the reader, the information gained from literature provides valuable tools when making decisions. Learning the value of reading helps in many ways, but for the most part, it gives the reader the pure joy of reading.