Monday, February 9, 2009

Analyzing Literature

When I was in college taking literature classes, the plan was to analyze a reading by going through it, looking for symbols, signs, theme, etc., and when you took everything as a whole and put it together, you could come up with the author's meaning for the reading material. If I thought about a certain interpretation, I was told that the interpretation needed to fit with the rest of the story. If it didn't, it didn't belong to the story. Sometimes I had a difficult time doing this because a portion of a story would sing out to me, and I would feel the need for my own personal interpretation for that passage only, even if that meaning wasn't followed through in the entire book.

I think all people tend to read a book and place themselves into the book, noting those things that have special meaning to them. They see in a book things they dream of, are afraid of, or have a need to understand. Is this so wrong? Well, maybe it is if you are a literary critic, but the enjoyment of reading for me is to discover, not only the story itself, but what is inside me. Some stories seem to be only for entertainment, to give you a thrill or allow you to practice your own mystery solving talents; other stories are filled with life lessons, and how a person reads these life lessons depends on their own personal lives. Does that make an individual interpretation wrong? I don't think so because through that personal interpretation, the reader has discovered something personal about himself. All the reader has to do is open his eyes and heart to see what it is inside him that makes the passage special. Maybe that's both good and bad, depending on what you discover, but it can't be all bad because we are all searching for our own purpose in life.

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1 comment:

Aunt Dinah said...

I agree that every reader brings something of him or herself to everything he or she reads and as a result each reader has a somewhat different "take" on a piece of literature. And every time a reader returns to something he or she has read before, he or she may find something new or interpret something differently than he or she did before. I'm reading and enjoying your blog, but you already knew that. =o)