- Paperback: 232 pages
- Publisher: Yale University Press; 1 edition (15 May 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0300205309
- ISBN-13: 978-0300205305
- Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 1.4 x 23.1 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 748 g
- Customer Reviews: 41 customer ratings
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 209,890 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
How to Read Literature Paperback – 15 May 2014
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"Part of the fun of the book is the way in which Eagleton prompts, provokes and at times infuriates. How to read How to Read Literature? . . . as an ideal introductory guide to critical analysis, and a thoroughly enjoyable reminder of Eagleton’s own skill and subtlety as a reader."—Felicity James, Times Higher Education Supplement
"This book is seriously good fun. Teachers should pounce on it with glee, especially if they have tried for weary years to tell students, daunted by having to comment on great literary works, that poems and novels are not alarming, for they are composed only of words. Of course students themselves may not read the book, students being what they are, but those entrusted with their education should rejoice. It is, says Terry Eagleton in his preface, a guide for beginners. But it is much more than that. Like fireworks over Sydney harbour, it fizzes and explodes with ideas. You don’t have to be either teacher or beginner to relish it: Eagleton is so full of enthusiasm that you just need to be able to read. His canvas is broad. He is unafraid of tackling anything, from “Baa Baa Black Sheep” to “Lycidas”, and he is splendidly unpompous."—Sue Gaisford, Tablet
"This is not only an entertaining book, it's an important one. What Eagleton refers to as "slow reading", after Nietzsche, seems horribly endangered as a human activity. He draws us back to basics here, in a sequence of sharp analyses, taking into account the essential aspects of intelligent reading. I love his breezy style, so accessible and concrete; yet he never sacrifices nuance or subtlety. This is a book for every reader, not only beginners, yet it will prove immensely useful in the classroom."—Jay Parini, author of Why Poetry Matters
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Wie lese ich Literatur? Der Autor will uns das erklären. Er will zeigen wie man liest und wie man analysiert und dann auch kritisiert.
Dabei macht er uns klar, dass alles Geschriebene Fiktion ist. Charaktere sind vom Autor nur angelegt, nur mit groben Umrissen skizziert, nie komplett entwickelt. Diese Entwicklung der Figur, die Wandlung von der Skizze zum komplexen Bild geschieht in der Fantasie des Lesers, natürlich ganz unterschiedlich, je nach dem persönlichen Hintergrund des Lesers selbst. Es gibt so viele unterschiedliche Bilder der gleichen Figur wie es Köpfe, sprich Leser gibt. Daher ist ein verfilmtes Buch für den in einen Roman tief involvierten Leser meist eine Enttäuschung. Er sieht die Bilder eines fremden Kopfes.
Spannend ist die Analyse des ersten Satzes verschiedener Werke. Der erste Satz scheint extrem wichtig. Im ersten Satz kann vieles angelegt sein. Einige erste Sätze sind genial. Eagleton führt Beispiele an.
Im weiteren Verlauf bespricht der Autor verschiedene Werke. Besonders ausführlich beschreibt er Great Expectations" von Charles Dickens, das er analysiert, in seine Einzelteile zerlegt, den Aufbau offenlegt. Der Unterschied zum sogenannten Bildungsroman wird dargestellt. Wenn man diese Analyse gelesen hat, möchte man das Buch selbst zur Hand nehmen, zumal man jetzt tiefe Zusammenhänge erkennt, auf die man sonst als herkömmlicher Leser nicht gekommen wäre.
Er zeigt u.a. wie Charles Dickens die Welt sieht: Eher schlecht und böse als gut und friedlich. Seine Sympathien liegen bei den sogenannten Bösen, wie Dieben und harmlosen Betrügern. Er zeigt weiter, dass bei Dickens die Menschen vom Schlechten zum Guten kommen können oder vom sogenannten Guten zum Bösen und dann wieder zurück zum Guten. Er zeigt auf, dass die bürgerliche Welt der Wohlhabenden eher verlogen und marode und keinesfalls erstrebenswert ist. Dort läßt er seine Helden nicht enden.
Es werden Texte zeitgenössischer Autoren analysiert und in ihrer aalglatten Perfektion als gekünstelt und gewollt offengelegt. Auch echt Qualität wird vorgeführt. Vor großen Namen (z.B. John Updike) macht er nicht halt.
Insgesamt ist das Buch für den leidenschaftlichen, nicht professionell gebildeten Amateur-Leser" ein kleiner Einblick in der Welt der Literaturwissenschaft.
第１章 openings テキストをそれ自体として捉える（内在的解釈）
第２章 character テキストを外の世界との関係で捉える（外在的解釈）
第３章 narrative 語り口っていろいろあるよ
第４章 interpretation テキストはいろんな解釈ができるよ
第５章 value 良い本と悪い本の違いはどこだろう
I expected How to Read Literature to have a lot in common with his earlier book Literary Theory. Evidently, however, literary theory and literary appreciation or, if you prefer, literary criticism, have less in common than I had imagined. Literary Theory, apparently, has more to do with the nature of language, and literary criticism emphasizes aesthetic criteria that govern how language is used in producing novels, short stories, poems, and other fictional forms. Theory and criticism, nevertheless, certainly have a substantial conceptual overlap.
How to Read Literature, thus, may generate minor but annoying confusion as to the very nature of literature as a distinct creative activity. For example, in Literary Theory Eagleton made much of the once prevailing admonition that "a poem should not mean but be." Since poems are constructed of words, and words take their meaning from their relationships with other words, and words are the building blocks of language and literature, the distinction between literary theory and literary criticism becomes even harder to make with confidence. However, if an author such as Eagleton chooses, in a particular instance, to emphasize one over the other, it seems reasonable to overlook the artificiality of a hard and fast break between the two, at least for the time being.
How to Read Literature is, for the most part, readily accessible, and it's not unduly difficult to follow Eagleton's discussions of openings, character development, the variable nature of narratives, and other pertinent topics. Nevertheless, Eagleton does not pander to the reader by choosing only easy examples with which to make his presentation. If anything, he shows off just a bit, displaying his impressive erudition and demonstrating the depth and complexity of his thought, sometimes to the point of contrivance for just this purpose. In truth, Eagleton fairly often over-interprets literature of varied genres. This is the sort of complaint that is often heard from mystified Freshmen enrolled in their first course in English composition, but toward the end of the book Eagleton acknowledges that patterns of alliteration, clusters of sumptuous words, instances of well-timed understatement, and other happy locutions attributed to an author's brilliance are very often produced unself-consciously. This does not rob them of their literary value, but it does undercut the claim that they were intentionally invoked to produce admirable literature. This, I think, has the salutary effect of making the writing of fiction seem less like industrial engineering and more like art.
Furthermore, one need not agree with every judgment that Eagleton offers. Sometimes he seems to be simply wrong. This is conspicuously true of his analysis of what the takes to be misguided uses of empathy in understanding and explaining characters. If I understand him, Eagleton claims that empathy has no place in the production of fiction. His reasoning has an odd and, I think, demonstrably false basis, namely that if one is empathizing -- putting yourself in the place of another person -- by becoming that person you deny yourself the opportunity to observe him or her and gather material for use in your writing.
This claim, however, seems absurdly wrong. George Herbert Mead's masterful Mind, Self, and Society gives a conspicuous place to taking the role of the other, in other words to empathy, in the development of social and communicative competence. This is how we learn about each other and acquire the ability to interact,
Much more recently, in Adam Begley's biography Updike, the biographer very effectively describes John Updike as always maintaining an essential detachment from himself, enabling him to observe and record what he did and felt just as he was doing it. Updike was adept at empathizing with himself and thereby accumulating raw material for his writing. This, according to Begley, was a primary reason why so much of what Updike wrote is autobiographical.
Even the smartest and most learned among us occasionally make some pretty consequential blunders. In this instance, I think that Eagleton became entangled in an overwrought convolution of his own making and outsmarted himself. It's ironic, moreover, that Eagleton rejected empathy but endorsed the use of sympathy, thereby risking spilling over into sentimentality.
This review is a lot more unfavorable than I wanted it to be. Eagleton's discussions of classical realism, romanticism, and modernism are very informative and useful. His failure to give more attention to post-modernism is consistent with choices he's made in some of his other books, such as After Theory. He pays tribute to post-modernism in the abstract, but seems averse to celebrating it concretely. In Why Marx Was Right he gives the distinct impression of being pretty much fed up with it. In fact, Eagleton goes so far as to judge modernism, not post-modernism, to be the most important development for literary and cultural studies in the 20th Century.
Eagleton, whatever his errors in judgment and penchant for self-aggrandizement, alerts the reader to important aspects of literature that are often overlooked or discounted. He is indeed endorsing "slow reading," and to do that as insightfully as Eagleton must be exhausting, something that is mastered over time through repeated applications.
No, Eagleton never comes right out and says "here is a list of the attributes of all fine literature," and he acknowledges that individual taste has a legitimate role in evaluating what we read and how much we enjoy it. More compelling, though, are his repeated acknowledgments that literary criticism unrelated to time and place is something that cannot be realized. That he puts so much emphasis on context, including social organization and relationships, as essential factors in evaluating literature is very much to his credit. Eagleton may be a bit of a showoff, but he's also an extraordinarily capable writer who rarely lets his ego render his work inaccessible to unspecialized readers.