Sunday, July 5, 2015

Reading Is Forgetting by Tim Parks | NYRblog

Reading Is Forgetting by Tim Parks | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books

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Well, one has to wonder about Nabokov’s enthusiasm for rereading. Is it really a gradual and always positive accumulation of greater and greater control and retention, or is it rather a precarious process in which each new engagement with the text cancels and alters earlier ones? I will never recover my first excitement on reading, say, Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, or Browning’s Men and Women, or Beckett’s Molloy. Often, I have a sense of disappointment when I reread: Graham Greene, E. M. Forster, Calvino, Antonio Tabucchi, do not seem as exhilarating now as when I first tackled them. But why should that diminish the pleasure I once experienced? Why should I not rejoice that I am enjoying a new book today, rather than worry what the verdict of some future rereading might be? The purpose of reading is not to pass some final judgement on the text, but to engage with what it has to offer to me now.
Would I be as dedicated a rereader if I had a better memory? Perhaps not, but I'm looking forward to rereading KSR's Mars books before the TV series comes out.

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