Reading Into Something

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"There are lots of useful lessons in the Illiad, but while it may at times read like an episode of the Jerry Springer Show, we'll miss most of them if we read through the lens of our own popular culture."

Foster, page 232

When I first began thinking about literary interpretations, my mind immediately jumpes to how I had previously blogged about the reader bringing personal experiences into interpretations in order to better relate to a work of literature.  As I read this particular chapter in Foster, I realized that it is possible to think that we relate a little too much to literature, not in the way that we have experienced exactly the same thing, but in the way that we twist the literature and contort it to fit current society.  Sometimes literary works contain archetypes or parables that are timeless and apply universally to mankind, but sometimes literature contains drama and other emotional aspects.  Not everything dramatic has to be Jerry Springer or what's happening in a high school hallway, but sometimes it is.  Obviously, it is doubtful that Homer was taking the angle of a trash-talking gathering of people willing to make fools of themselves, but he created a tale in which the drama of war was exemplified to extremes.  Nevertheless, the context of literature must be kept in mind while reading, lest we as an audience forget the works intentions. 

http://jerz.setonhill.edu/EL267/2009/03/foster_how_to_read_literature_5/

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