04 February 2005

A feel for literature, part 2

Scott over at Conversational Reading sums up an issue I posted about yesterday:

Really, though, I enjoy books both ways, and I don't think I'd want to read wholly without either. Perhaps I'm just a wishy-washy guy, but sometimes I just want to sit down and enjoy some artful writing and other times I'm out with my notepad and little sticky things interpreting like there's no tomorrow. Somedays I'm out with my Barthes and my Foucault, and others I prefer more personal reactions to a book, like Cigarettes are Sublime, (a work I recently finished).

Regardless, it is interesting, and insightful, to watch Dan and Mark disagree. I will say that by blogging they're doing readers like myself a favor, presenting on an almost daily basis erudite takes on literature. It's that kind of intelligent, impassioned discussion of literature that's missing from general talk of literature in the media, and looking for it is part of the reason I turned to blogs in the first place.

I heartily agree. This is also what's sucked me into the blogosphere and inspired me to start up my own little ramshackle place. Because even though I've already outed myself as a self-conscious neophyte, these are definitely issues worth risking foolishness for.

He also links to Word Munger's thoughtful post, "A defence of literary criticism--sort of":

Rushdie’s specific critique of literary theory is that it imposes an ideology on a text – Marxism, feminism, neo-colonialism, whatever. Reading a text this way, for Rushdie, is like smashing it through an iron grate. Sure, you can pick up the now-battered remnants of the text and come to some “understanding” of what they “mean,” but it will be a fragmented, disjointed view of the original text. Instead, Rushdie thinks students should be taught to simply read texts, “one sentence after another,” and afterwards, to “try to piece together what those sentences mean.”

But that isn't the whole story...

Do yourself a favor and read the entire post. Meanwhile, I'm heading out into the snow to (hopefully) catch a bus and begin my weekend of more delightful Spanish interview transcribing.



crocodylia said...

Close reading all the way, baby. I don't grasp the value of much lit crit, frankly. It always seemed like busywork with an expiration date to me (in that the value of the criticism expired as soon as the grade was got). It's what keeps me wondering about the value of going to grad school for a masters in lit.

amcorrea said...

I hear you...but am fascinated by the idea that what Derrida was doing was extreme close reading...

Intertextuality is also a really interesting subject: nothing is created in a vacuum. Tracing allusions or delving into poetics would also be really absorbing.