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Editor’s Column: Reading Enjoyment

Editor’s Column: Reading Enjoyment Editor's Column Reading Enjoyment This issue focuses on enjoyment. Enjoyment is arguably intrinsic to the experience of literature. Literature pleases; it entertains us. And yet what we mean by enjoyment is not commonly agreed. In The Pleasure of the Text, Roland Barthes famously distinguishes between pleasure (plaisir) and enjoyment (jouissance). In French, the latter (from the verb jouir, meaning "to come") carries with it a sexualized valence, evoking at once joy or bliss and also dismay. Barthes argues that the experience of plaisir results from a "comfortable practice of reading," a communicable knowledge about the reader's societal values, whereas the experience of jouissance "imposes a state of loss" by jolting the reader out of docility and complacency, out of his or her sense of communal belonging (14). Enjoyment in reading disrupts a reader's affective economy, fostering "queer feelings" or a general sense of joyful discomfort.1 Enjoyment pluralizes meaning, indulging in hermeneutic excess; such hedonism perverts (in the Latin sense of pervertere, meaning to overturn, to turn upside down) pre-existing norms of readability: "Reading is the gesture of the body (for of course one reads with one's body) which by one and the same movement posits and perverts its http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Comparatist University of North Carolina Press

Editor’s Column: Reading Enjoyment

The Comparatist , Volume 39 (1) – Nov 20, 2015

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © Southern Comparative Literature Association.
ISSN
1559-0887
Publisher site
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Abstract

Editor's Column Reading Enjoyment This issue focuses on enjoyment. Enjoyment is arguably intrinsic to the experience of literature. Literature pleases; it entertains us. And yet what we mean by enjoyment is not commonly agreed. In The Pleasure of the Text, Roland Barthes famously distinguishes between pleasure (plaisir) and enjoyment (jouissance). In French, the latter (from the verb jouir, meaning "to come") carries with it a sexualized valence, evoking at once joy or bliss and also dismay. Barthes argues that the experience of plaisir results from a "comfortable practice of reading," a communicable knowledge about the reader's societal values, whereas the experience of jouissance "imposes a state of loss" by jolting the reader out of docility and complacency, out of his or her sense of communal belonging (14). Enjoyment in reading disrupts a reader's affective economy, fostering "queer feelings" or a general sense of joyful discomfort.1 Enjoyment pluralizes meaning, indulging in hermeneutic excess; such hedonism perverts (in the Latin sense of pervertere, meaning to overturn, to turn upside down) pre-existing norms of readability: "Reading is the gesture of the body (for of course one reads with one's body) which by one and the same movement posits and perverts its

Journal

The ComparatistUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Nov 20, 2015

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