Trying to follow & enjoying the conversation on varieties of pleasurable reading experience, started by Josh Corey & et al. Nota :
There's probably something like "inherent difficulty", which gets around Robt. Archambeau's relativizing the notion. Understanding a difficult text has to involve more than just learning the lingo - no matter how arcane (socially, pedagogically) the lingo may be. Difficulty is not just an aspect of verbal encryption - a puzzle to be worked out - nor is it, on the other hand, just an aspect of textual ambiguity, undecideability.
I'd say "inherent difficulty" is present in any literary work which tries to represent/interpret the unknown, the mysterious, and the real - all of these together. What we think of as cheap thrills, escapist novels, easy reading - the pleasure we take in them - and the reason we think of them this way - is that they have little or no originality. There is no apprehension of anything really new - no exploration. They are "generic" - they fulfill generic expectations - there is no break in the seamless machinery of entertainment, because the author is not confronting anything mysterious. There is no "mystery" in these mysteries.
Silliman & many others would like to analyze this difference in goals by way of differences on the level of diction, syntax, etc. But the use of different styles and literary idioms doesn't guarantee the "inherent difficulty" I'm getting at. In fact we are familiar with the phenomenon of supposedly "difficult" texts which simply mimic and parrot the received or prestigious exempla for "difficulty". In fact we see so much of this, that many of us have to turn to cheap thrills fiction just to escape the hypocrisy of it all.
Where do writers like Jane Austen, Malcolm Lowry, Shakespeare, Nabokov, fit here? Nabokov is someone who tried to bridge the popular read and the extreme-cryptic-arcane. Lowry's Under the Volcano is layered like an onion. (is there pleasure by way of onions?)