On June 27th IE hosted a talk on “What is Literature and what can we expect of it? The profession of writing” led by renowned writer and literary critic Marcos Giralt Torrente. The speaker shared with the audience his vision of literature, the current situation of the world of publishing, and some marvelous pieces of literary work.

Giralt started by explaining what we commonly mean by literature, going back to the times when oral literature was born and its subsequent transition to writing.  After defining the historical meaning of literature, the speaker shared his point of view that “not every published book is literature”. To support his argument he read an article by Enrique Vila-Matas which explained why JM. Coetzee is considered literature, but not Dan Brown. Mr Girald said “the true author looks for conflicts with difficult answers,” as opposed to superficial writers. The speaker also stated that “art doesn’t have to be beautiful but rather sincere,” and the most important thing about an authors is how he or she looks at things. In addition to the article by Catalan author Enrique Vila, the speaker also read texts from Scott Fitgerald’s Letters to my Daughter in order to explain how an author must feel things.

After giving his point of view of literature, Giralt analyzed the current complicated situation of the publishing industry, stating that “in the publishing world there is a lot of talk about the end of literature, but literary genres rise and fall, they are in constant metamorphosis”. He also confirmed that he doesn’t share the idea that the outlook for literature is gloomy, and that despite the fact that new generations seem to prefer visual entertainment to reading, he doesn’t see it as the end of the book.

The end of the talk focused on literary curiosities. Giralt went back to Coetzee and talked about his book Summertime, in which the Nobel Prize winner includes himself in the narrative, but he is already dead and the main character is a person that is researching his life when he was in his thirties in order to write his biography. Giralt concluded that “it is important to examine one’s experience as in today’s world there is more demand for real-life literature than fiction.”

After the conference, the IE community enjoyed a dynamic Q&A session during which Giralt was asked about his vision of literature, his work, and his recommendations for amateur writers.


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