For me a work of fiction exists only insofar as it affords me what I shall bluntly call aesthetic bliss, that is a sense of being somehow, somewhere, connected with other states of being where art (curiosity, tenderness, kindness, ecstasy) is the norm. There are not many such books. All the rest is either topical trash or what some call the Literature of Ideas, which is very often topical trash coming in huge blocks of plaster that are carefully transmitted from age to age until somebody comes along with a hammer and takes a good crack at Balzac, at Gorki, at Mann.
(Lolita. Everyman’s Library edition. “On a Book Entitled Lolita.” pg 333.)
During these times of rather prevalent "these times"–driven reactive theorizing—and intrusion as default—across computer screens and their Internet, I've been wondering whether perhaps the emphasis, in VN's pre–Internet Era quote above, might in some ways be on the plural.
Even a complex novel like Pale Fire springs in its various directions from a single inspired “fantasy” often from beyond the creator's ego (see VN's Lecture on Bovary, for instance), that can be captured and conveyed in something like a screenplay's log line. Whereas "topical trash"—in which the author has used an imaginative basis merely or partly to showcase from moralizing, philosophizing, and/or our-times ideologies—might tend to rely, in each case, on a plurality of surface/“zeitgeisty” ideas that ironically sum into a single opaque mass?
Semantically speaking, searching the Web for “Literature of Ideas” mostly turns up twenty-first century science fiction refs, but “Novel of Ideas” yields more literary considerations like the two articles below.