• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

Reading Literature Today is a path-breaking intervention in current debates on reading and literature. This is a book of criticism that attempts to rescue literature from both the materialism of the market and the convoluted dryness of academia.

The two complementary essaysone on literature and the other on readingfocus largely on texts in English and French, but also refer to other literatures. The authors propose a way of reading literature that not only synthesizes some earlier tendencies and puts them in context, but also propounds a revolutionary understanding of the nature of literature and reading.

The writers taken up for discussion include William Shakespeare, Joseph Conrad, Rudyard Kipling, Marcel Proust, Charles Baudelaire, Franz Kafka, William Burroughs, Dylan Thomas, Attia Hosain, Albert Wendt, Zadie Smith, Philip Hensher, Mohsin ...

Identification and Adherence
Identification and adherence

Je est un autre.

‘I is another’.

Rimbaud, The ‘Voyant’ letter, my translation.

Which ‘Je’ is the reader? Rimbaud kicked Baudelaire's mask away, refusing a permanent face on both poet and reader. No more understanding between the lines, no more literary camaraderie, no more walking together in the streets of Paris. ‘J'ai seul les clefs de cette parade sauvage’, the Poet rejects any possibility of understanding of his visions by the Reader, locking the door on both sides.

But what is that ‘key’ Rimbaud is talking about? And is ‘Je est un autre’ a metaphor, an image or an allegory?

Essential questions, because they imply a new reading strategy on the part of the reader. Since Baudelaire's Spleen de Paris, we know that poetry is ...

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