Sunday, April 03, 2011

La lecture des amis

He fears "the long read is a dying art ... Very literate people admit they can't read books any more."
Martin Amis interviewed in The Observer, April 2011.
If I write all this in defence of Flaubert, whom I do not much like, if I feel myself so deprived at not writing about many others whom I prefer, it is because I have the impression that we no longer know how to read.
Marcel Proust writing in the Nouvelle Revue Française, January 1920.


  1. What about learning poems by heart? Once upon a time it was quite common.
    Yesterday I was reading loud The Wasteland for this purpose and people were lookin at me like I was mad (yup doin it while biking did not help); eventually an old guy approached me, kinda moved, lectured me about the semitic origin of the word "Europe" and gave me one of his (bad I must say) poems, typewritten.

  2. Mmm, the latter bit of your anecdote sounds suspiciously like what happens to the writer in Peter Handke's Afternoon of a Writer!

    BTW, reciting aloud means you won't have noticed the title is three words: The Waste Land.

  3. I think on some level while people feel overwhelmed by the amount of information (and "entertainment") foisted upon them by 24 hour cable TV, the internet, work (remember that?,
    atype of mental exhaustion has set in. Many no longer have the reserves to concentrate on long books anymore. I have made an effort to excise as much media (useless media that is) from my life and not only can I concentrate on long books I look forward to a quiet hour or two in the evening with a long book in order to rejuvenate myself. I'm currently reading Perec's "Life: A User's Manual" and it is full of digressions and ramblings which I know would not be enjoyable for people feeling pressed for time. Turn everything that requires electricity OFF (except the reading light) and you'd be surprised how you can "come back" to normalcy



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