Friday, January 13, 2012

How to read a book

Sometimes we jog, sometimes we walk,or simply admire the vista, or bemoans roads without shoulders. 
Similarly, from a different context,the way we treat books-we read deeply or read with half-consciousness or simply leave them neatly arranged in the shelves. At other times we sigh for lack of time.

I just finished reading The Curtain, An Essay in Seven Parts by Milan Kundera. He shows another angle or point of view on how to read a story (novel) which taught me a lesson(s). It enriches my idea on how to read a book not from a critical eye but from an understanding eye. It gives me a convincing incentive to reread certain works he mentioned. (The book cover is a portrait of Marie Adelaide of France in Turkish Costume 1753 by Jean Etienne Llotard.)
from Theory of the Novel, Kundera writes: “Fielding was one of the first novelist able to conceive a poetics of the novel:each of the eighteen books of Tom Jones opens with a chapter devoted to a kind of theory of the novel (a light, playful theory, for that’s how novelist theorizes-he holds jealously to his own language, flees learned jargon like the plagues).”
From a reviewer: “Besides, he is one of the most erudite novelists on the planet. Not since Henry James, perhaps, has a fiction writer examined the process of writing with such insight, authority and range of reference and allusion. For instance, while analyzing Tolstoy’s description of Anna Karenina’s suicide, he notes in a tossed-off, parenthetical aside: “Stendhal likes to cut off the sound in the middle of a scene; we stop hearing dialogue and start to follow a character’s secret thinking,” which leads him to speak of Anna’s last thoughts: “Here Tolstoy is anticipating what Joyce will do 50 years later, far more systematically, in ‘Ulysses’ — what will be called ‘interior monologue’ or ‘stream of consciousness.’ ” Which in turn leads him to observe that “with his interior monologue, Tolstoy examines not, as Joyce will do later, an ordinary, banal day, but instead the decisive moments of his heroine’s life. And that is much harder, for the more dramatic, unusual, grave a situation is, the more the person describing it tends to minimize its concrete qualities. ... Tolstoy’s examination of the prose of a suicide is therefore a great achievement, a ‘discovery’ that has no parallel in the history of the novel and never will have.” End of parenthesis.”-excerpts from Reading Kundera by Russel Banks, NYT March 4, 2007.


Jeanne @ Collage of Life said...

Edgar...Enjoying the photos and thoughts on reading a book. I am a bookaholic with never enough time. It still give me great pleasure just to have them by my side. I recently listened to Anna Karenina on audio CD and found the comments here very interesting. Thanks for the recco!

edgar said...

It's time for me to try audio books.