In recent publications on Dutch modern literature a lively debate has ensued. From a 'late-postmodern' perspective, Thomas Vaessens has challenged (amongst others) the meanwhile well established institutional approach of for instance Gilles Dorleijn. This article argues that ultimately both approaches are flawed because they refuse to take seriously the autonomous status of the literary artwork. This makes it hard to give a convincing account of the social and cultural impact of literature. For a more comprehensive explanation of the value and effect of modern literature, the marginalized notions of autonomy, subjectivity and fictionality should be seriously reconsidered.