I hope to write a proper post soon on the combined efforts of Audrey Niffenegger and Sarah Waters to make me believe in ghosts (or not). In the meantime, I thought this was as nice a suggestion about the difference that marks out “literature” from other written texts as I’ve seen:
Art that is not in an argument with itself declines to entertainment.
It’s a bit of Howard Jacobson’s commentary in a Guardian round-up of contemporary novelists on whether Tolstoy is “the greatest writer of all time.” None of them really answers that question directly, but they all seem to be fans. Which reminds me: my lovely copy of the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation of War and Peace still sits pristine on my shelf: I hereby commit myself to reading it in 2010!