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Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Literature teaches us to notice

From How Fiction Works by James Wood:
"Literature differs from life in that life is amorphously full of detail, and rarely directs us toward it, whereas literature teaches us to notice [...]
This tutoring is dialectical. Literature makes us better noticers of life; we get to practise on life itself; which in turn makes us better readers of detail in literature; which in turn makes us better readers of life. And so on and on. You have only to teach literature to realise that most young readers are poor noticers. I know from my own old books, wantonly annotated 20 years ago when I was a student, that I routinely underlined for approval details and images and metaphors that strike me now as commonplace, while serenely missing things which now seem wonderful. We grow, as readers, and 20-year-olds are relative virgins. They have not yet read enough literature to be taught by it how to read it."



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