Wednesday, 17 December 2008

The portrait of the blogger as an old reader

If I write about one book every week, it will take me two years to cover the traditional "Hundred best books in the world". Is it worth while? I may try and see where it takes me.

Condition: no work-related books. This rules out all children's books, but on the other hand the definition is negotiable. There are critics who claim that there is no such thing as a children's book. They give a variety of reasons for the statement. Anyway, no work-related books. But are there any non-work-related books for a scholar of literature? Aren't we all damaged forever by our cynically analytical approach to printed word, and by extension, to all stories? I remember watching The Lion King on television with my kids, who, on hearing my comments on Hamlet and the Oedipus complex, told me to shut up and never watch another movie in their company (they have become more tolerant since then). So can I really read Moby Dick without noticing the figurative language, the symbols, the underlying ideology, the ambiguous point of view, the intertextual links... I'll stop here, before I get lost in terminology. Once again, can I read a book like I listen to music, without critical reflection? Can musicologists, or musicians, like my father, listen to music for pure delight? Can art critics enjoy a painting without contemplating composition and perspective? Does knowledge kill joy? If so, my profession is self-destructive. I really enjoyed Moby Dick more now thanI did forty years ago. But does it depend on my sophistication as a professional reader or my life experience? In any case, to write about the "Hundred best books in the world" I need to dissociate the professional from the individual. What a challenge!

1 comment:

Julia said...

I prefer to watch films I'm not writing about. But I definitely think all books can be non-work-related, as long as you read them again.