Two loose ends in search of a theory:
1. What does it mean that when we search for an adjective to describe what is generally considered to be the greatest television program of all time, the term that appears most often is Dickensian? Especially when Dickens is widely regarded in the literary world, even amongst believers in the canon, as something of a second-rate author (or a first-rate author with an inability to maintain a consistent level of quality, a sort of literary Johnny Cash)? Dickens created memorable characters and at least a few notable plots, but wrote like a man being paid by the word, a fact not lost on anyone who reads David Copperfield or Bleak House.
2. Borges notes in one of his essays that the greatness of Don Quixote lies in its ability to survive--and succeed--even when poorly translated. He contrasts this to "the perfect page," a work--of quality--which is dependent on the precise ordering of thoughts and words, from which any deviation notably reduces the quality of the work. I wonder how much of the great today can survive this process of translation--I suspect it would be close to none. (But perhaps this is just to say that most aesthetic work, properly situated, is mediocre--even that which we at the moment perceive to be great)