Reading by Example

Reading by Example reviews READING BY EXAMPLE1 Reading certain literary texts--Diderot's Rameau's Nephew (1769), for example--often induces (in me) a frazzled sense that the meaning of the text just can't be nailed down. Some texts are maddeningly elusive, Protean as they twist out of the interpretive grasp. Slippery and insubordinate, they frustrate and solicit the reader. Sure enough, we can call such texts unruly, and it is tempting to lay down the law, get out the schoolmaster's ruler (like Diderot's rather teacherly Moi), and hector them into submission. But another approach involves responding with a similar unruliness--a sort of hermeneutic freestyle, where no holds are barred. Not quite. For in Zalloua's book, there is one rule that remains intact: it is the rule, or law that commands readers to take responsibility for their interpretations. So doing, we become ethical readers. But what exactly does it mean to take responsibility for our readings? Who says that we should? What would be the measure of such responsibility anyway? Accounts of "ethical reading" that attempt to incorporate Levinas, for instance, measure responsibility against the benchmark of our respect for the otherness of the text. But what is "otherness"? And if, in Levinas, it is http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png symploke University of Nebraska Press

Reading by Example

symploke, Volume 24 (1) – Jan 8, 2016

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Publisher
University of Nebraska Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 symploke.
ISSN
1534-0627
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

reviews READING BY EXAMPLE1 Reading certain literary texts--Diderot's Rameau's Nephew (1769), for example--often induces (in me) a frazzled sense that the meaning of the text just can't be nailed down. Some texts are maddeningly elusive, Protean as they twist out of the interpretive grasp. Slippery and insubordinate, they frustrate and solicit the reader. Sure enough, we can call such texts unruly, and it is tempting to lay down the law, get out the schoolmaster's ruler (like Diderot's rather teacherly Moi), and hector them into submission. But another approach involves responding with a similar unruliness--a sort of hermeneutic freestyle, where no holds are barred. Not quite. For in Zalloua's book, there is one rule that remains intact: it is the rule, or law that commands readers to take responsibility for their interpretations. So doing, we become ethical readers. But what exactly does it mean to take responsibility for our readings? Who says that we should? What would be the measure of such responsibility anyway? Accounts of "ethical reading" that attempt to incorporate Levinas, for instance, measure responsibility against the benchmark of our respect for the otherness of the text. But what is "otherness"? And if, in Levinas, it is

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symplokeUniversity of Nebraska Press

Published: Jan 8, 2016

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