How do you read?
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31-03-2011, 11:22 AM
 
RE: How do you read?
Story is important, and so is good writing, but sometimes they get in the way of each other. A good story and crap writing is very frustrating because I want to find out what happened, and yet I can't bear to wade through the turgid prose. That happens most often with crime or science fiction novels.

Then there's the special problem of a good story and such superb writing that it distracts from the story line. I'm having that problem at the moment with Death by Hollywood, by NYPD Blue writer, Steven Bochco. He has the narrative voice of a Hollywood agent so pitch-perfect and so funny that I keep going back to reread the (many) choice sentences.
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31-03-2011, 01:14 PM
RE: How do you read?
I'm a Literature student so literal readings are far below me Wink You simpletons just can't reach my level of intellectualism, I am clearly superior in the field of the English literature.

No, I don't seriously mean that Tongue I used to shift between casual reading and intellectual, hunting-for-deep-meaning-on-every-goddamn-page reading. Now I'm always on, can't stop it, and I'm far more critical of books now. If a book is a simple pleasure with nothing theoretical or philosophical to hold it up, it's not worth my time any more.

Also, quick note on the Shakespeare comment made earlier, for the post part Shakespeare's intentions were very transparent. When he writes "Shall I compare thee to a summers day" it isn't exactly difficult to break down what he's saying. Shakespeare's true brilliance comes in the way he plays with language and structure to put across his meaning. Shit, Hamlet is probably the greatest character in all of literature, his lines were so carefully and brilliantly crafted. Those soliloquies man... Those soliloquies...

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01-04-2011, 06:50 PM
 
RE: How do you read?
(31-03-2011 01:14 PM)Green Wrote:  If a book is a simple pleasure with nothing theoretical or philosophical to hold it up, it's not worth my time any more.

Give it time. When you're working, and getting home too knackered for anything else, then you'll be reaching for the latest Dan Brown.

Seriously, though, I went through the same thing thing during my English degree. But I always pigged out on the trashy novels between quarters.
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07-04-2011, 04:51 PM
RE: How do you read?
(31-03-2011 01:14 PM)Green Wrote:  I'm a Literature student so literal readings are far below me Wink You simpletons just can't reach my level of intellectualism, I am clearly superior in the field of the English literature.
Hey! We Literature students aren't like that at all Tongue Well... Not always Wink

(31-03-2011 01:14 PM)Green Wrote:  Also, quick note on the Shakespeare comment made earlier, for the post part Shakespeare's intentions were very transparent. When he writes "Shall I compare thee to a summers day" it isn't exactly difficult to break down what he's saying. Shakespeare's true brilliance comes in the way he plays with language and structure to put across his meaning. Shit, Hamlet is probably the greatest character in all of literature, his lines were so carefully and brilliantly crafted. Those soliloquies man... Those soliloquies...
Exactly! I'm just finishing up a year-long course on Shakespeare, and jeez he makes me feel like a terrible writer/reader. We'd spend half a class reading one of Hamlet's soliloquies trying to work out just how many political, social, philosophical, etc, etc, stuff he's squeezed into them. Hell, we even spent a good 10 or so minutes figuring out what Hamlet's "Words, words, words" meant, and still didn't come up with anything concrete.

The thing about Literature classes that may be appealling to scientifically-oriented minds is that no interpretation is actually concrete. Scholars are always debating about the merits of so-and-so's interpretation/criticism, etc. So if you have a Lit teacher/prof who tells you that their interpretation is "the" interpretation or that something can only be interpreted in a particular way, then call bullshit on them. As long as your ideas can be supported by evidence from the text, then you can say whatever you want about it.

Anyway, to answer the original question, how I read really depends on what I'm reading. If I'm reading something non-class related, then I tend to just read for either information or for fun. If it's the latter, then sometimes I'll get excited about references to literary works (that's the lit. nerd in me). I often tend to analyse a work without realising I'm doing it though, so if a book isn't well-written, then it becomes torturous to read. I'll start picking out all the things that I think the writer is doing wrong, or could have done better and I ruin it for myself. If I'm reading something for class, I tend to speed read to get it finished on time, then do a close reading when it comes time to write a paper or exam.

"Remember, my friend, that knowledge is stronger than memory, and we should not trust the weaker." - Dr. Van Helsing, Dracula
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08-04-2011, 07:21 AM
 
RE: How do you read?
SecularStudent

Quote:I'm just finishing up a year-long course on Shakespeare, and jeez he makes me feel like a terrible writer/reader.

Perhaps you're missing the point. Shakespeare was a popular entertainer, providing the Elizabethan equivalent of soap opera for the crowds of apprentices who came to while away an afternoon at the Globe. And in the worst part of town, unlike the university playwrights. The key to understanding Shakespeare is to enjoy him, and the best way of doing that is to see live performances of the plays.

That way you see language in the context of a well-told story, and can enjoy the sex and fart jokes as well as the deep philosophy. I say this because I did study Shakespeare at the University of Washington, and also had a subscription to the Seattle Shakespeare Company.

Quote:As long as your ideas can be supported by evidence from the text, then you can say whatever you want about it.

Absolutely. Try pitching the idea of a term paper on Shakespeare as Elizabethan soap opera. The response might be educational, and you'll certainly get noticed.
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09-04-2011, 09:12 AM
RE: How do you read?
(08-04-2011 07:21 AM)riggbeck Wrote:  Perhaps you're missing the point. Shakespeare was a popular entertainer, providing the Elizabethan equivalent of soap opera for the crowds of apprentices who came to while away an afternoon at the Globe. And in the worst part of town, unlike the university playwrights. The key to understanding Shakespeare is to enjoy him, and the best way of doing that is to see live performances of the plays.

That way you see language in the context of a well-told story, and can enjoy the sex and fart jokes as well as the deep philosophy. I say this because I did study Shakespeare at the University of Washington, and also had a subscription to the Seattle Shakespeare Company.

Oh, I agree, many of Shakespeare's Elizabethan plays are fairly straightforward. I've been told many times before that Shakespeare must be watched to get the full experience, and so my prof tries to do this by showing film clips, but we just don't have the time to sit down and watch a full film for every play (we're saving that for Hamlet).

The thing is, once you delve into his Jacobean plays, they get much more complex. Shakespeare was attempting to criticise the tyrannical monarch without getting censored (or worse), so many of the plays in this period are ambiguous and full of double-meanings.

(08-04-2011 07:21 AM)riggbeck Wrote:  Absolutely. Try pitching the idea of a term paper on Shakespeare as Elizabethan soap opera. The response might be educational, and you'll certainly get noticed.

Well, I've already written my term paper, but at the start of the course, my prof mentioned that there are scholars within the Shakespeare field who have taken that approach, so it wouldn't be anything new.

"Remember, my friend, that knowledge is stronger than memory, and we should not trust the weaker." - Dr. Van Helsing, Dracula
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09-04-2011, 10:51 AM
 
RE: How do you read?
(09-04-2011 09:12 AM)SecularStudent Wrote:  
(08-04-2011 07:21 AM)riggbeck Wrote:  Perhaps you're missing the point. Shakespeare was a popular entertainer, providing the Elizabethan equivalent of soap opera for the crowds of apprentices who came to while away an afternoon at the Globe. And in the worst part of town, unlike the university playwrights. The key to understanding Shakespeare is to enjoy him, and the best way of doing that is to see live performances of the plays.

That way you see language in the context of a well-told story, and can enjoy the sex and fart jokes as well as the deep philosophy. I say this because I did study Shakespeare at the University of Washington, and also had a subscription to the Seattle Shakespeare Company.

Oh, I agree, many of Shakespeare's Elizabethan plays are fairly straightforward. I've been told many times before that Shakespeare must be watched to get the full experience, and so my prof tries to do this by showing film clips, but we just don't have the time to sit down and watch a full film for every play (we're saving that for Hamlet).

The thing is, once you delve into his Jacobean plays, they get much more complex. Shakespeare was attempting to criticise the tyrannical monarch without getting censored (or worse), so many of the plays in this period are ambiguous and full of double-meanings.

Frankly, I'm appalled that watching a complete film isn't part of the timetable. But then, it wasn't when I took my English degree. That said, they are available on dvd. I'm curious to know if you have watched one of the plays all the way through. And if so, did you enjoy it as a performance?

The reason I ask is that in becoming canonical literature, Shakespeare has become an elitist, academic goldmine, something to be analyzed rather than appreciated for what it is - a popular theatrical experience. Most people just know the name, and you couldn't drag them to a performance without a hefty bribe.

In my early teens, we had a school trip to see The Winter's Tale at a London theatre. I was excited about going because Jim Dale, one of the lead actors in the Carry On films, was playing Autolycus. I loved the Carrry On films - they were rude and crude, with plenty of tits and ass. So the realization that someone who acted in those films could also be a Shakespearean actor was an eye-opener.

The result was that I paid a lot of attention to the play, really liked it, and got completely hooked on Shakespeare. Part of it is definitely the genius way he combines high drama, tragedy and low comedy. Because that's how life is. And I never got hung up on the elitist view, while still being gobsmacked by the language and the ideas.

(08-04-2011 07:21 AM)riggbeck Wrote:  
Quote:Absolutely. Try pitching the idea of a term paper on Shakespeare as Elizabethan soap opera. The response might be educational, and you'll certainly get noticed.

Well, I've already written my term paper, but at the start of the course, my prof mentioned that there are scholars within the Shakespeare field who have taken that approach, so it wouldn't be anything new.

That's good to know.
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13-04-2011, 08:50 AM
RE: How do you read?
(09-04-2011 10:51 AM)riggbeck Wrote:  Frankly, I'm appalled that watching a complete film isn't part of the timetable. But then, it wasn't when I took my English degree. That said, they are available on dvd. I'm curious to know if you have watched one of the plays all the way through. And if so, did you enjoy it as a performance?

The reason I ask is that in becoming canonical literature, Shakespeare has become an elitist, academic goldmine, something to be analyzed rather than appreciated for what it is - a popular theatrical experience. Most people just know the name, and you couldn't drag them to a performance without a hefty bribe.

In my early teens, we had a school trip to see The Winter's Tale at a London theatre. I was excited about going because Jim Dale, one of the lead actors in the Carry On films, was playing Autolycus. I loved the Carrry On films - they were rude and crude, with plenty of tits and ass. So the realization that someone who acted in those films could also be a Shakespearean actor was an eye-opener.

The result was that I paid a lot of attention to the play, really liked it, and got completely hooked on Shakespeare. Part of it is definitely the genius way he combines high drama, tragedy and low comedy. Because that's how life is. And I never got hung up on the elitist view, while still being gobsmacked by the language and the ideas.

Well, we could watch a complete film for every play, but then we'd be reading only half the plays that we've gone through.

Unfortunately, I've only seen Shakespeare plays on film, but I'd love to see a live performance. I grew up in a really small town nowhere near big cities, so I never had a chance to go see any performances. Though now that I'm in a city, I might go see one if I get a chance.

I'll be glad to finally just read Shakespeare for fun after I'm done this course though. Learning about him in university is great, but I don't want to take a course on him again haha Tongue

"Remember, my friend, that knowledge is stronger than memory, and we should not trust the weaker." - Dr. Van Helsing, Dracula
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02-05-2011, 06:24 PM
RE: How do you read?
I always wondered how much of the supposed symbolism was intentional by the author, and how much was never intended, but is read into the work afterwards, by critics and teachers.

English is not my first language. If you think I am being mean, ask me. It could be just a wording problem.
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02-05-2011, 07:47 PM
RE: How do you read?
(02-05-2011 06:24 PM)sy2502 Wrote:  I always wondered how much of the supposed symbolism was intentional by the author, and how much was never intended, but is read into the work afterwards, by critics and teachers.

I'm sure a lot of symbolism is intentional, I mean you don't write a character's death as a crucifixion in this day and age without attempting to invoke religious imagery for example. Beyond that, literature belongs to the public not to the author. If you can find Christian undertones in a book and use evidence from within the work to support your find then it's there whether the author intended or not. I don't think it makes the work any less valid if it's unintentionally brilliant, it adds to the magic really Tongue

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