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comment by jadedog
jadedog  ·  759 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Why Is There So Much Bullshit in Modern Writing?

    But a lot of the same articles you'll see -- here's one -- make the point that what we're reading matters way more than how much. Words on hubski, words on facebook, even words at The Atlantic, they don't help as much as Dostoevsky, Hemingway or Woolf.

I was almost buying it until I got to this

    Could a country that had widely read “Huckleberry Finn” have taken Donald J. Trump seriously for a second? Twain’s readers will remember “the king” and “the duke.” They know what a bullying con artist sounds like.

What does a snide remark about US politics have to do with reading?

But also this

    Lifetime readers know that reading literature can be transformative, but they can’t prove it. If they tried, they would have to buck the metric prejudice, the American notion that assertions unsupported with statistics are virtually meaningless. What they know about literature and its effects is literally and spiritually immeasurable. They would have to buck common marketplace wisdom, too: in an economy demanding “skill sets”—defined narrowly as technical and business skills—that deep-reading stuff won’t get you anywhere.

I've read some of the authors you and he list. I wasn't transformed.

The author is speaking for a group of people (lifetime readers) and making a claim about them he can't possibly know that he conveniently can't back up with evidence. If people aren't convinced, I'm not sure they should be.




flagamuffin  ·  759 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    What does a snide remark about US politics have to do with reading?

Nothing. That's dumb. Certain publications cannot write an article in 2016 without mentioning Donald Trump. It's getting frustrating.

    I've read some of the authors you and he list. I wasn't transformed.

Who have you read that transformed you? Sometimes people are different.

jadedog  ·  759 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Who have you read that transformed you? Sometimes people are different.

For me personally, I'm more transformed by non-fiction over fiction.

Since this discussion is about fiction writing, I'd compare something like The Brothers Karamazov to a book like The Life of Pi. Both are filled with imagery, metaphors and religious allusions. The Life of Pi was slightly more accessible because I didn't also have to deal with the different cultural references that related to that specific time period. Both had the ability to make people think differently about religion and man's place in the scheme of things.

I think that can be done without those books as well. People who are curious will find their ways to those issues. Those who aren't will probably take those books too literally.

I've been in several books clubs with people discussing The Life of Pi. The people who saw the metaphors were those people who were already questioning and curious. For the people who thought the book was about a tiger in a boat, it wouldn't matter what they read.

flagamuffin  ·  759 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    For the people who thought the book was about a tiger in a boat, it wouldn't matter what they read.

Maybe so. What about a 10 year old who isn't aware that books can be taken at more than face value because he's never read a good one? If he is funneled into young adult dystopia land, he may never realize that. Maybe those are the adults (I assume) you've seen across the table at the book club.

Not everyone is going to read Great Expectations and walk away changed. But everyone should be given the chance.