[ilds] Rules for Reading

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Fri May 6 11:19:26 PDT 2011


A few comments.

1.  Richard Pine has definitely set down his rule for reading literature, which means, as far as I can determine, "genuine straightforward readings of the text(s)," and that formalist approach presumably excludes any extraneous theorizing.  Pine's definition creates more problems than it solves and would entail, I think, a rather boring future for literary criticism.  I still have visions of heaven (was it Milton's?) where the angels sit around singing praises to the Almighty.

2.  This is the first time I've ever been put in the company of Jacques Derrida (even if somewhat negatively).  This may reconcile me to some members of the ILDS list, who shall go unnamed.

3.  This may be the opportunity for others to state their approach(es) to reading literature.  Mine is —  anything goes (within limits).  If I recall correctly, when Lionel Trilling was asked what he expected of literary criticism, he simply said that it should be "intelligent."  Hence, his selected essays, The Moral Obligation to Be Intelligent (2000).  That's a good start.


Bruce


   
On May 6, 2011, at 7:46 AM, Richard Pine wrote:

> I control no discussions; I set no rules. Read my books and see if you agree with them. If you do, that's fine with me. If you don't, that's also fine with me. But don't try to tell me how your view of any work of literature has any bearing on how I see it, because it doesn't. I am an unreconstructed protestant, and I won;t be told by anyone how to believe, how to behave, how to think. I follow only my own views and my own beliefs. I have not the slightest interest in how you read DL or any other text, unless you can persuade me of the appropriateness of your views. So far, very few members of this group have put forward anything other than negative thinking about LD (carping, asking daft questions, dragging in what seem to me to be irrelevant red herrings). I do not ask that we all become mindless adherents to a LD-worshipping sect, but that we read the books for what they are, and , where we know it, what the author intended. I use 'Derrida' as a metaphor for the mindless pursuit of texts through other people's lenses (one could include Habermas and Ricoeur, to name but ten) and I abhor that kind of mindlessness. I do not say that Redwine is a mindless Derridan, but he drags in elements which get in the way of genuine straightforward readings of the text(s) and then gets abusive because we don't agree with him. I wish to have no further part in this discussion, not because I want to exclude those who disagree with me, but because this kind of exchange gives me no nourishment.
> RP
> 
> From: Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>
> To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
> Cc: Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>
> Sent: Fri, May 6, 2011 5:32:07 PM
> Subject: [ilds] Parking Lots
> 
> RP,
> 
> Since we're dealing with metaphors, I assume you mean that the "parking lot" is your parking lot — the one leading into your house where you control the discussion and set the rules.  No thanks.
> 
> 
> Bruce
> 
> 
> 
> On May 6, 2011, at 12:37 AM, Richard Pine wrote:
> 
>> Not at all. If you feel you must sit around a campfire (I don't!) then leave your baggage in the parking lot. RP
>> 
>> From: Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>
>> To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
>> Cc: Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>
>> Sent: Thu, May 5, 2011 8:23:05 PM
>> Subject: Re: [ilds] The Dark Labyrinth
>> 
>> "Free of jargon, free of extra-textual considerations, free of critical prejudice" — now what does all that sound and fury mean?  I guess it means that all discussion should end, and we should all sit around the campfire and sing the praises of LGD and say how much we enjoy everything he writes.  Not much of a critical discussion, in my opinion.
>> 
>> 
>> Bruce
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> On May 5, 2011, at 9:17 AM, Richard Pine wrote:
>> 
>>> I think we should educate ourselves out of the literary snobbism in which most of us have been trained - I mean the Leavisite idea of a 'canon' or 'tradition' into which a writer either does or does not 'fit'. (Leavis is said to have remarked of LD 'not one of us'. Both Leavises suffered, in my opinion, from an appalling - in the strict Adlerian sense - inferiority complex. Reading QD Leavis's 'Fiction and the Reading Public' one could be forgiven for wondering how she could have possibly expressed such banal, untenable opinions about major authors of whom she did not approve.)
>>> We have to remember that LD very early on tried to become 2 writers - LD and 'Charles Norden' and that H Miller put the lid on that idea. But he did go forward writing one 'real' (as he called it) book followed by one lighter book. He himself described 'Sicilian Carousel' to me as 'a makeweight' while waiting for the successor to Monsieur.
>>> Eliot didn't dismiss DL: he said there was too much Durrell for a Norden, and not enough Durrell for a Durrell. If you elide Norden, the problem goes away.
>>> Look at the chronology: heavy/light/heavy/light all the way through. BUT THAT DOESN'T MEAN THAT WE HAVE TO REGARD THE 'LIGHT' AS INFERIOR. It is the Leavises et al who have conditioned us to think that way. What is it? It's what LD himself described as 'British critics suffering from penis envy'. i.e. we spend so much energy lauding the 'real' books that we think it inferior of us as lit crits to also acknowledge the in-between stuff, and yet we secretly want to admire it. Somehow, we feel guilty at admitting that 'DL' or 'White Eagles' excites us, because we have been trained to act as snobs. LD himself said that one would seldom meet a reader who admits to enjoying Proust AND Wodehouse. But HE DID and so do I and I HAVE NO PATIENCE with the school of thought which pretends that we have to make a special case for DL or White Eagles or Antrobus. We DON'T. Just ENJOY! Or is that impossible for a po-faced critic? I'm afraid it is, in most cases. And then there are those toilet-trained in 'theory' who can't make up their minds about anything they've read until they have decided what Derrida might have thought. They don't deserve to be critics at all, because they haven't got a mind of their own, not even a Leavisite one. Urrrgh
>>> So could we please stop agonising about whether DL is a great book or even an important book, and just read the damn thing for what it is worth - free of jargon, free of extra-textual considerations, free of critical prejudice?
>>> RP

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