Wed Apr 15, 2015, 08:26 AM

Reading With Imagination

Last edited Wed Apr 15, 2015, 10:23 AM - Edit history (1)

“Reading,” Jean-Paul Sartre writes in his essay “What Is Literature?,” “is a pact of generosity between author and reader. Each one trusts the other; each one counts on the other, demands of the other as much as he demands of himself.” Literature, he maintains, is a shared experience, and a literary work’s reception and success is integral to it. “What the writer requires of the reader is not the application of an abstract freedom but the gift of his whole person, with his passions, his prepossessions, his sympathies, his sexual temperament, and his scale of values.”

Every author, he believes, constructs his work from notions about the implied or potential reader; in other words, in choosing his reader, the author chooses his subject. Thus, since in Sartre’s view a literary work is a such close collaboration between writer and reader, it must necessarily follow that a “good” reader produces “good” literature while a “bad” one, “bad” books. “The bad novel,” Sartre writes, “aims to please by flattering, whereas the good one is an exigence and an act of faith.”

Reading, Sartre goes on to say, is predicated on personal concerns and experiences and there is no such thing as a totally objective reader, a tabula rasa without tastes, opinions, loves. It is certain that the “The Aeneid” got a different reading (hearing?) in Virgil’s time than it does today. Equally, a Nabokov scholar and a family therapist would read “Lolita” quite differently, neither of them being right or wrong. It is not, then, the different textual interpretations that are at stake — the more the merrier, in fact — but instead it is the approach to the act of reading that matters. This approach does not rely on the tastes or the qualifications of particular readers — the feminists, the Tea Party members, the liberals — but rather on how exactly people read.

So how should one read?

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Reply Reading With Imagination (Original post)
Agent_86 Apr 2015 OP
Argentina Apr 2015 #1

Response to Agent_86 (Original post)

Wed Apr 15, 2015, 03:23 PM

1. Excellent post. Recommended. In my opinion, there is no right way or wrong way to read because as

noted in the OP different people might interpret a text in different ways. And imagination helps in reading fiction, especially science fiction, fantasy and horror, three of my favorite genres.

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