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There is a real and deep-seated reluctance on the part of critics, connoisseurs, scholars and theorists to concede that the value of an excellent work of literature may reside almost entirely in the pleasure it affords us. The prevailing and pervasive attitude is that literature matters, it is important, ergo the ultimate value of good art lies in something more than mere enjoyment. Something more than pleasure must be at stake: some sort of enlightenment, some way in which the work contributes to the betterment of self or world. This assumption is mistaken. But it is worth asking why we are inclined to fall into this way of thinking.
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