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Re: Vivian Darkbloom
Posted By: Brunnen-G, on host
Date: Tuesday, September 18, 2001, at 16:46:22
In Reply To: Vivian Darkbloom posted by MissyClar on Tuesday, September 18, 2001, at 15:22:20:

> He also mentions some characteristics of a "lowly reader":
> 1) Bringing base emotions into literature: Many a teacher had told many a student, "emphasize with the character, identify with the character" but Nabakov makes clear that by doing this, we project our own qualities and experiences into a book. The lowly reader loves to read about himself, so that suits him just fine, but emotional reading will keep them from understanding a book.

I found your post very interesting and thought-provoking (and I wouldn't mind reading this essay myself -- what's the title?) but I disagree with him on this point.

You can't *help* projecting your own qualities and experiences into a book. If you could, you'd get as much out of reading a book as your text-recognition software gets out of scanning it.

Saying that base emotions stop you from "understanding" a book -- I find this rather condescending, insulting and pretentious, coming from an author to a reader. It suggests to me that there is one ironclad valid meaning behind a book, which is the author's, and anybody who doesn't "get" it may as well not have read the book. But no matter how good a writer and how careful a reader you're talking about, as a reader you are NEVER going to "get" exactly what the author was thinking when he wrote that scene or that character. You're different people. You can't climb inside the author's mind by reading what he wrote. All you can do is visit a while, and maybe form your own impressions of the scenery.

This is why one person can love a particular book while another person can't stand it. It's why I could struggle futilely to make myself read a particular book when I was 15, never making it past the first chapter, yet pick up the exact same book now and think, "Whoa. This is the best book EVER." I'm a different person, through my changing qualities and experiences, than when I first picked up that book years ago.

I can see that emotional reading would stop you from understanding *some* books. A textbook on physics, perhaps, if you're trying to empathise with the characters. ("AAAAAH! I can't believe they SPLIT UP!! Those were my FAVOURITE molecules!!") But fiction or drama, no matter how literary and demanding? No way. If you're not reading a book with your emotions, there's no *point*.

Brunnen-"a lowly reader, I guess"G

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