Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Some thoughts on Reading

No, not the town west of London.

Trigger is "How to talk about books you haven't read" by Pierre Bayard, published in English by Granta (from the French, "Comment parler des livres que l'on n'a pas lus?").
Don't feel guilty that you haven't read everything! It's important to express yourself and write too, not just read other people's thoughts and expressions all the time.
Starts with the librarian in "The man without qualities", who deliberately doesn't read the books in his library because it would prejudice him and make his job impossible.
But he does read the contents pages and makes an assessment of the books to catalogue and shelve them appropriately. Yo man!
Goes via critics who are happy to make judgements on books without reading them, eg Paul Valery.
The comic pain of giving a talk on something you've read to people who think you're someone else (happens in Graham Greene's "The third man").
Wish I'd thought of all that earlier.
Don't feel guilty, don't be afraid of "culture". Come to think of it, that only puts other people off and makes the wary even warier of engaging with "intellectual stuff". A real problem in this country with its class divisions and prejudices and self-imposed cages which we must try to break - at least try.

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