November 02, 2011

Literary Blog Hop Nov. '11

I've been looking forward to joining in with this blog hop for the first time.  I admit, the title was a bit intimidating at first, and it took me a couple of months to decide to try it, but my fascination has finally overcame my nerves, so here we go.


Our Question of the Day (provided by our hosts at The Blue Bookcase):

"To what extent do you analyze literature?  Are you more analytical in your reading if you know you're going to review the book?  Is analysis useful in helping you understand and appreciate literature, or does it detract from your readerly experience?"

First, I must confess that I really didn't learn ANYTHING about literary analysis until I started college.  Most of my pre-university education was spent in tiny, disturbingly conservative, Evangelical Christian schools, and thus, I am still playing catch up with my peers on the literary front.  I was astonished when I arrived at a public liberal arts university and discovered that most people my age had already read several Shakespeare plays and a number of other classics in high school classrooms, whereas I had to struggle through any classics I attempted on my own.  Despite my repeated attempts, Shakespeare never made ANY real sense to me until I studied him thoroughly in graduate school.


However, as an English major, I certainly made up quickly for lost time.  Those of you who studied literature extensively at university, did you have to buy a Norton Anthology of virtually every literary genre known to mankind?  I used to say that Norton would eventually put out an anthology of pudding recipes.  Anyway, between picking every bit of marrow off the bones of The Scarlet Letter, stumbling my way through excerpts from The Tale of Genji, finding out what spoiled children the ancient Greek gods, goddesses and heroes were in The Iliad, and satirizing Guelphs and Ghibillines in The Divine Comedy, it's a wonder that I can read ANYTHING just for fun anymore.


I definitely analyze a lot more when I know I have to produce a review of a book, especially if that review has been assigned to me or commissioned in some way.  If I'm just reviewing something I read for fun on my blog or in my Book Lover's Journal, I'm not quite so analytical.  And yes, it certainly can suck some of the joy out of the experience; sometimes I find myself thinking, "Just read the damn book, for Heaven's sake!"  At other times, however, the realization of the primordial myth or the archetype that the author is invoking, or the earlier masterpiece upon which a book draws for its themes, can make reading an even more satisfying endeavor.  I have found that the more a book can stand up to that kind of constant critical subtext in my own head while still keeping me entertained or interested, the better a piece of literature the book turns out to be over all.

10 comments:

  1. First of all, it's great that you've decided to jump in and take part.:D Secondly, nice response! I especially agree with the fact that analysing sorta becomes second nature to a former lit student. One really can't help it.

    And yes, it certainly can suck some of the joy out of the experience; sometimes I find myself thinking, "Just read the damn book, for Heaven's sake!" - That had me gaffawing!=)) It's so true!! Yet, analysis can be a good thing because you could be drawing something out of it at a very personal level.

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  2. "And yes, it certainly can suck some of the joy out of the experience; sometimes I find myself thinking, "Just read the damn book, for Heaven's sake!" - That had me gaffawing!=)) It's so true!! Yet, analysis can be a good thing because you could be drawing something out of it at a very personal level."

    this comment from Risa is part of what I meant when I said a true Platonic reader does not analyze he just experiences it-because we cannot do that we of necessity analyse.

    JNCL-I am glad you decided to join the hop and I am now a follower of your blog

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  3. Hi there! Thanks so much for joining our hop, it's wonderful to have you here! I'm like you - after studying literature in college I can't deprogram myself and I find myself analyzing everything.

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  4. Nice to meet you! Like you, I pretty much first discovered literary analysis and critical thinking in college too. Look forward to exploring your blog postings! Cheers! Chris

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  5. I actualyl wish I had studied enlgish at university because I am sadly lacking in any great analysis skills. I do think its important to find a balance while you are reading. I like to really pay attention to the text and think about, but not to the point where I can't lose myself in the story as well

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  6. Hi JNCL! I'm glad you're participating in the hop! It's really interesting to learn how everyone approaches analysis. Also, your phrase "disturbingly conservative" made me laugh. :)

    Sorry it's taken me ages to get back to you, but it's so cool that we have the KZ connection! I was there about 7 months, and it was a pretty life-changing experience. I wish I had gotten out and seen more of the country. Wouldn't it be great to go back someday?

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  7. Analyzing literary texts is part of my background and a habit to me. I teach English literature to foreign students, but as I say in my post, I hated it as a student so I don't make them work on too detailed analysis.
    Thanks for contibuting your experience. It's so interesting to share and discuss!

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  8. Welcome to the hop! Though I was an English major in college and studied lit for my master's degree, I am not an especially analytical reader any longer. It's very freeing to be able to approach a book as a reader that way.

    I am now a new follower and I have to say I'm very curious to know how your religious conversion has informed your reading.

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  9. Thank you for following along! As to the issue of my conversion and my reading, it is an excellent question, and one that I have never specifically addressed on this blog per se. I think I may have to devote a post to that, if only to sift through my disorganized thoughts about it and arrive at a satisfactory answer for myself.

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  10. I agree that when there's something to analyze I tend to enjoy the book more. I guess I like a little work with my relaxation!

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