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Re: [mythsoc] Re-reading

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  • Mike Foster
    For several years now, I ve written a column called Off the Shelf for the American Chesterton Society s magazine, Gilbert. The premise is re-reading a book
    Message 1 of 33 , Nov 21, 2004
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      For several years now, I've written a column called 'Off the Shelf' for
      the American Chesterton Society's magazine, Gilbert. The premise is
      re-reading a book read at least once before. I've found it best to use
      a clean copy, that is, one not dogeared nor marginally annotated, so
      when I did The Hobbit earlier this year [sample available if requested],
      I used the 50th anniversary Allen & Unwin edition that had reposed in a
      bookcase since purchase. I discovered bits that I had never noted
      before, and since I've been teaching the book since 1978, that was a
      wonderfully pleasant surprise.

      The very best books always reveal something new, a detail or a
      description hitherto un-noted. One appreciates the structure, the
      evolution of the tale more when revisiting these old friends. Some--The
      Catcher in the Rye, Perelandra--reveal themselves as not quite so fine
      as one once thought; others--The Power & The Glory, Robert Bly's
      poetry--are even better than one recalled.

      'Make new friends but keep the old/ Silver threads among the gold.'

      Cheers,
      Mike

      Larry Swain wrote:

      >I do both. I enjoy a new book, but some books make enough of an impact that I'll return to them periodically--some things I return to yearly. I read _A Christmas Carol_ almost every year, along with Tolkien's short pieces, Leaf by Niggle, Smith of Wooten Major, and Farmer Giles. Probably every year or two I return and reread a Sayers novel--espeically now that it has been 20 years since I've read some of them. So I do a good deal of reading new works, and a good deal of rereading old friends.
      >
      >The other aspect of this for me is that I often end up teaching books I like and have reread--so I end up rereading them again. (Sometimes I cheat and don't and then mess up the details, the students love that!)
      >
      >Larry Swain
      >
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      >
      >>I much prefer re-reading novels to reading new ones, for the simple reason
      >>that when I re-read a book, I already know it will be good, an experience
      >>very hard to come by with new fantasy. I used to find it worthwhile to
      >>shovel through the trash looking for the good stuff, but not any more.
      >>
      >>And the books I find good will very much withstand, and even invite,
      >>re-readings.
      >>
      >>David Bratman
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      >>The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
      >>Yahoo! Groups Links
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      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Mike Foster
      I recently re-read That Hideous Strength, in a new pb edition, to refresh myself with it in order to teach it in college after at least seven years unread
      Message 33 of 33 , Dec 11, 2004
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        I recently re-read That Hideous Strength, in a new pb edition, to
        refresh myself with it in order to teach it in college after at least
        seven years unread wholly.

        Short verdict: I admire it more & liked it less.

        The dualities of plot and character and setting are exquisitely
        drawn--Grace Ironwood vs. Fairy Hardcastle, for one. Lewis has some
        wonderful symbolic vignettes, like the shattering of the window at
        Bragdon. The Objective Room is Orwellian before Orwell.

        But this Ransom [d]evolution into a Mini-Williams gave me the willies
        even more this time through, probably my fourth complete review--a
        perfectly good character spoiled by apotheosis of sorts. If there is
        such a thing as pompous humility, here 'tis. The bit with encouraging
        Bultitude's conjugality with that nice lady bear he'd picked up at
        Belbury forced a disbelieving embarrassed out-loud laugh.

        So there it is. When we go back to the readings of truly great
        books--and I can think of four for starters--we are dazzled by something
        new never noticed before--a gem in the grass, as it were.

        Other times, we notice a toad that hadn't really bothered us before.
        Wait a minute...two toads.

        Cheers,
        Mike

        dianejoy@... wrote:

        >Great to hear from you. Are you working on a new book? ---djb
        >
        >Original Message:
        >-----------------
        >From: Pauline J. Alama PJAlama@...
        >Date: Sun, 28 Nov 2004 21:57:14 -0000
        >To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
        >Subject: [mythsoc] Re: Re-reading
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >I'm kind of at the other end of the spectrum from Wendell on
        >re-reading. I am pretty choosy about what I read, and often find I
        >would rather re-read an "old friend" than read something new
        >that fails to capture my imagination strongly.
        >
        >I'm one of those who like multi-layered books that reward
        >re-reading, though some might be surprised at what I include in
        >that category (such as the Harry Potter books). I also enjoy
        >re-reading a book with a twisty plot and noticing how different it
        >all seems when I know where the turns are taking me.
        >
        >I think I re-read favorite books as a way of incorporating them into
        >myself. As someone said, the more you re-read, the more you
        >memorize. The books I re-read most avidly in childhood (Alice in
        >Wonderland, Through the Looking-Glass, Grimm's Fairy Tales,
        >the Prydain Chronicles, and the Phantom Tollbooth probably top
        >the list) shaped my vocabulary -- both my literal vocabulary of
        >words and a figurative vocabulary of imaginative symbols. The
        >books I've re-read obsessively as an adult (Robertson Davies'
        >Deptford Trilogy, Patricia A. McKillip's Riddle-Master Trilogy, and
        >the Brothers Karamazov -- a pretty odd assortment, I admit) each
        >feel like a door to some deeply buried part of my mind that I need
        >to revisit now and then.
        >
        >Pauline
        >Pauline J. Alama
        >www.geocities.com/paulinejalama/paulinealama.html
        >
        >--- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, "dianejoy@e..."
        ><dianejoy@e...> wrote:
        >
        >
        >>I re-read some books (most notably Tolkien, CSL and Dorothy
        >>
        >>
        >Sayers *Mind of
        >
        >
        >>the Maker*) and certain passages in other books that I think
        >>
        >>
        >are truly fine
        >
        >
        >>writing. I like re-reading, but like you, I go on to the next. ---djb
        >>
        >>Original Message:
        >>-----------------
        >>From: WendellWag@a...
        >>Date: Sat, 20 Nov 2004 17:11:33 EST
        >>To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
        >>Subject: [mythsoc] Re-reading
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >>In our discussion in last night's Knossos (the
        >>
        >>
        >Washington-D.C.-area
        >
        >
        >>Mythopoeic Society group) meeting, we talked about re-reading
        >>
        >>
        >books. It
        >
        >
        >>appears that
        >>I'm unusual among heavy readers in that I seldom re-read a
        >>
        >>
        >book. It's
        >
        >
        >>apparently standard as a child to go through a phase of
        >>
        >>
        >reading the same
        >
        >
        >>book over and
        >>over, at least for people who go on to be heavy readers. I've
        >>
        >>
        >read _The
        >
        >
        >>Hobbit_ six times, _The Lord of the Rings_ five times, and _Till
        >>
        >>
        >We Have
        >
        >
        >>Faces_
        >>three times (and these times are over a period of about 35
        >>
        >>
        >years), but I'd
        >
        >
        >>be
        >>hard pressed to think of any other books I've read more than
        >>
        >>
        >twice. Nearly
        >
        >
        >>everything else I've only read once. I guess I've always felt that
        >>
        >>
        >I'd
        >
        >
        >>rather
        >>move on to the next book rather than re-read something. What
        >>
        >>
        >do you people
        >
        >
        >>do?
        >>
        >>Wendell Wagner
        >>
        >>
        >>[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >>The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
        >>Yahoo! Groups Links
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >>
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