« Tragedy and the Common Man (LAST BLOG ENTRY FOR CLASS) | Main | Bernice Bobs Her Hair »

January 24, 2006

How to Read Literature Like a Professor

"To me, literature is something much more alive. More like a barrel of eels. When a writer creates a new eel, it wriggles its way into the barrel, muscles a path into the great teeming mass from which it came in the first place. It's a new eel, but it shares its eelness with all those other eels that are in the barrel or have ever been in the barrel."

I thought this section of chapter five was kind of interesting. It makes me think of when a writer writes a new book and it gets on the shelves, it's sitting there with books that have been around for a very long time. Those stories have been written and have been sitting on those shelves for a long time too. They're best-seller books but now they have to compete with the new book sitting on the shelf.

"But the point is this: stories grow out of other stories, poems out of other poems. And they don't have to stick to genre. Poems can learn from plays, songs from novels."

This reminded me of Drama as Literature last semester. There was a lot of connections from plays that we read where authors would take a part of a play that was written before them and change it a little bit but put it into their play.

Posted by DanielleMeyer at January 24, 2006 01:53 PM


I agree Danielle, there were so many connections in the plays that we read. I read a couple of books over break and found the same thing applied as well.

I really don't understand that eel thing though. LoL

Posted by: Andy LoNigro at January 24, 2006 03:58 PM

Great reflections, Danielle. Every new work that's produced changes our relationship to all the works that have been published before. And since the only real value of literature is our relationship to it, it's not a stretch to say that each new work published actually changes the works that have gone before. The words are the same, of course, but their meaning is different.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at January 24, 2006 04:53 PM

I just wanted to say that I agree with you. But even if the old books are sitting on the shelves it doesnt mean that they have to be competing with other books.. I am sure that some do but like Foster said stories grow out of other stories. And some of those new stories could have originated from the old ones. I am sure alot of those authors from the 'new' books were somewhat influenced by the old ones just like he said. So its not necessarily competion but a continuation of the old book in someways. No matter what I am sure that the new books are going to make you think of an event or something that happened in another book before this new one was even published.

Posted by: Brittney Aller at January 24, 2006 10:54 PM

I agree with you. But it doesnt always have to be about competition. What if those new stories are not trying to compete with the old but they were just influenced by the old to come up with a new story. A story that maybe more compelling or interesting. The new stories shouldn't feel like they have to compete but should feel good because somebody took their story and was inspired to create one that was just as great.
A lot of books like you said have many connections to other books... but thats what keeps the reader entertained and inspired to keep reading, I think.

Posted by: Brittney Aller at January 24, 2006 11:10 PM

Post a comment

Remember Me?