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Unreading, Rereading, and the Art of Not Reading

Unreading, Rereading, and the Art of Not Reading LiEdEkE pLAtE [T]he art of not reading is highly important. --Arthur Schopenhauer In the early months of 2007, the highbrow Parisian publishing house Éditions de Minuit publishes Pierre Bayard's Comment parler des livres que l'on a pas lus? to great public interest. The book apparently answers a need: it is an immediate success and becomes one of the French bestsellers of the summer of 2007, with translations in all of the major European languages. If one overlooks the question mark at its end, as most translations appear to have done, the manual-like title suggests the book provides practical tips on how to bluff one's way through reading. As such, it places the thin paperback lightly but squarely in the "How-to" category, at the opposite end of Matei Calinescu's magisterial Rereading (1993), which is above all concerned with what happens after, and not before or instead of reading. Yet, how different are the two books really? Bayard's How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read, as the title of the English translation goes, and Calinescu's Rereading, ostensibly differ significantly: they have different agendas, are written for different audiences, and command different readings. Yet their reflections on nonreading and re-reading http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png symploke University of Nebraska Press

Unreading, Rereading, and the Art of Not Reading

symploke , Volume 17 (1) – Oct 23, 2009

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Publisher
University of Nebraska Press
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Copyright © University of Nebraska Press
ISSN
1534-0627
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Abstract

LiEdEkE pLAtE [T]he art of not reading is highly important. --Arthur Schopenhauer In the early months of 2007, the highbrow Parisian publishing house Éditions de Minuit publishes Pierre Bayard's Comment parler des livres que l'on a pas lus? to great public interest. The book apparently answers a need: it is an immediate success and becomes one of the French bestsellers of the summer of 2007, with translations in all of the major European languages. If one overlooks the question mark at its end, as most translations appear to have done, the manual-like title suggests the book provides practical tips on how to bluff one's way through reading. As such, it places the thin paperback lightly but squarely in the "How-to" category, at the opposite end of Matei Calinescu's magisterial Rereading (1993), which is above all concerned with what happens after, and not before or instead of reading. Yet, how different are the two books really? Bayard's How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read, as the title of the English translation goes, and Calinescu's Rereading, ostensibly differ significantly: they have different agendas, are written for different audiences, and command different readings. Yet their reflections on nonreading and re-reading

Journal

symplokeUniversity of Nebraska Press

Published: Oct 23, 2009

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