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Update on Reading Deliberately

The fact that we always interpret literary works to some extent in the light of our concerns—indeed that in one sense of our own concerns we are incapable of doing anything else, might be one reason why certain works of literature seem to retain their value across the centuries. Think about it for a second, why shall Homer survive while the other poets in his time didn’t? Certainly “our” Homer is not identical with the Homer of the Middle Ages, nor “our” Shakespeare with that of his contemporaries; it is rather than different historical periods have constructed a “different” Homer and Shakespeare for their own purposes, and found in the texts elements to devalue or value.

Although I have yet to pay a visit to the West Hollyhood hangout/den of writers and readers, Book Soup has become my new favorite bookstore in Los Angeles area after Vroman’s in Pasadena and The Iliad Bookshop in North Hollywood. Recently, Book Soup blogged about how they prefer P.G. Wodehouse over Shakespeare. Their link on Facebook alerted me that “all you have to do is open the front page of any of his novels, and you are totally swept away to a different area of your brain.” This can never be more timely as I’m pondering which book might be his best one for satisfying Category 6 of the Reading Deliberately plan.P.G. Wodehouse would be a contributing factor to the British Comedy category.

As to my reading update, Easter’s is right around the corner (not that I observe any religious holiday), but I’m heading to Palm Springs. Ahead of the reading schedule, I am already halfway through Marilyn French’s The Women’s Room, which is a page-turning high drama that reminds me of Desperate Housewives except the setting is 1960s. Jumping the line of books is another John Steinbeck, a re-read of Of Mice and Men, which I have forgotten since high school. Purely for the high rating among readers who have also bought Cutting for Stone and Little Bee I decided to bump up Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood.

14 Responses

  1. Sounds like a solid plan! I am working on my list of reads for the Dewey 24-hour read-a-thon. I’m sure I am WAY overestimating what I will read, but a girl can try, right? I’ve never read Wodehouse, but have one of his books that I won from Frances. I need to make a point of getting to it this year!

    • Is the read-a-thon this weekend or the next? This weekend I’ll most likely be either in the pool or up on the hiking trails of Palm Springs. I have only participated one read-a-thon (the last one) and I finished 2 books. It worked better for me to focus on the same readings, rather than going all over the place. 🙂

  2. Have a great time in Palm Springs and enjoy your books!

  3. I completely agree with your theory, and I think that is what’s great about (great) literature. Thanks to these different interpretations, we now have such critical approaches as Queer Theory, Feminist Theory and Popular Culture.

    Have fun in Palm Springs!

    • Speaking of Feminist Theory, I just finished Marilyn French’s The Women’s Room, which, published in 1977, defined a new movement of women who wanted to break through their roles as being just housewives. It’s a very fast read, somewhat like high drama, that examines how the old, accepted social norms have limited women.

  4. BTW, I’ve got an award for you on my blog, make sure you claim it!


  5. I am not far into The Women’s Room but like it so far. I’m trying to get into Brothers Karamazov, but it’s not going well.

    It’s funny because today at the university, one of the other instructors was talking about a conference she went to this past weekend where one presenter “queered” a Shakespearean character. She wanted to know what I thought and if the writer didn’t intend the character to be one way, is it open game? It’s an interesting question, but my response to her was that whether or not the intent was there, the character can be analyzed.

    As a feminist and feminist theorist, I have my lens up during everything I read. That said, I try to stay within the context of the work unlike other theorists who sometimes take it a bit far. As Nikola says, though, that’s how we get new criticism.

    • When a work of literature is over-analyzed to the point that the analysis reaches out of its scope, focus on the context is lost. The Women’s Room, for example, could be read as a social commentary on the time when difficult imposed in women’s breaking into untraditional practices: attending Harvard, achieving professionalism, and getting divorce.

  6. I live about 35 miles from Book Soup and yet I still have not paid them a visit.

    We were supposed to hit Palm Springs next week but we had to cancel since the family business is moving and that week will be spent packing. Grrr.

    Enjoy your hike!

    • I’m hoping to stop by Book Soup very soon, and have lunch at this deli (which started as a catering business) called Joan’s on Third when I head to West Hollywood next time. That you are not able to make to PS next week might not be a bad thing, because the White Party (a gay circuit party with lots of drinking and drugs) will take place in Palm Springs on April 9-12. That’s why we are going this weekend. We want peace and quiet!

  7. Wodehouse is delightful. you will love him. and i hope you enjoy ALIAS GRACE as well, only one of my all time favorites! Enjoy your trip to Palm Springs!

    • I’m so glad to hear that you loved Alias Grace! I skimmed through a couple Wodehouse books and they cracked me up. Once again, aren’t we the literary twins?! 🙂

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