The joy of reading
Posted by Kate on November 14, 1997 at 20:17:04:
Was anyone else struck by the extraordinary, self-indulgent and none the less wonderful excursis on the pleasure of reading in Chapter 26? She seems to be luxuriating in the very pleasure of writing the words.
And I love the descriptions of the different kinds of readings there can be - dutiful readings, personal readings, impersonal readings and then...
"there are readings that make the hairs on the neck, the non-existaent pelt, stand on end and tremble, when every word burns and shines hard and clear and infinite and exact, like stones of fire, like points of stars in the dark -- readings when the knowledge that we shall know the writing differently or better or satisfactorily, runs ahead of any capacity to say what we know,or how. In these readings, a sense that the text has appeared to be wholly new, never before seen, is followed, almost immediately, by the sense that it was always there, that we the readers, knew it was always there, and have always known it was as it was, though we have now, for the first time, become fully congnisant of, our knowledge."
Wow! it's like sacramentalizing the act of reading... a really quite wondrous account of something we too often take for granted.
I find it interesting that this is one of the few places in the novel where we seem to get the authors POV - not Rolands or Mauds, or Ash's or Christabel's or Ellen's or Blackadder's or Cropper's or Val's but Byatt's - and that she should choose to use the moment to talk about reading.
It does flow quite naturally into the pages that follow as Roland almost miraculously discovers within himself a VOICE, and discovers that words have a magic beyond their mere utility. But it is still a fascinating interpolation into this book which is above all a celebration of the heady joy of reading
(and did anyone else note the en passant discussion of the meaning of "heady"/, where Byatt, again in her authorial voice, tells us directly that the pleasure of the brain and the viscera are each implicated in the other, when they are working - which tells us a lot about the nature of passion as seen in the key relationships in the novel -- they are about lust and intellectual attraction, and that is the way she thinks it should be...)
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