"Don't Read with YOUR Eyes"

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Okay, so in response to Chapter 25 of How to Read like a Professor, there's a line that reads "don't read with your eyes."

In a way, this sums up what this whole book is shooting for. To understand a text that takes place outside of our own lives, as so many of them do, we need to understand the context that exists in and around that text.
We can't really appreciate the timelessness and prodding of Kafka's The Trial if we don't understand what he's shooting for. I'm drawing a blank right now for other relatable texts, but the point is, sometimes if we take things for simple face value, we're going to miss out on some of the priceless gems underneath.
This is why it's important to study the time period around the text. Woolf's bashing of Mr. Ramsay isn't the same without us understanding that Philosophy as a whole was near collapse while she was writing To the Lighthouse.
As artists and as lovers of art, we need to be constantly open to new and old ideas. Because without ideas, we as a whole are limited to our current state as individuals.

3 Comments

Very insightful, Patrick. Yes, a major reason we study literature of the past is so that we can explore the various world views that contributed to, or even challenge, our own.

This chapter gave me some great insight on what mind set that you should be when you read certain works of literature. Now when I read something new that I prejudge as going to be boring and uneventful, I can now think back to the advise of Foster and this chapter to open my mind.

Sometimes you have to leave who you are in order to understand a work. Understanding the context of a story or novel is so crucial to understanding the work as a whole.

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This page contains a single entry by PatrickSchober published on October 23, 2010 11:21 AM.

Another Glance Into My Head. If You Watch Close, You Might Get a Glimpse of -It-! was the previous entry in this blog.

A Couple Thoughts on Poe's "The Black Cat" is the next entry in this blog.

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