Re-reading

This seems to me like a vast oversimplification:

Q: You ended up as a teacher in the University of Texas in Austin. What do you have to say about the experience of teaching at the university level?

A: In 1969, I was invited to teach in the English department at the University of Texas in Austin. In the earlier years I taught 20th century English and American poetry, modern European drama and gave a general course in literature. Then, for some 20 years, it was mainly creative writing. I worked at the university for 38 years.

It was indeed a very rewarding experience. The best part of university teaching is that one is continuously engaged with young minds who are intellectually eager to discover their own vast potential. And, one learns a lot from them, especially when they respond to the challenge of creativity and come up with strikingly avant-garde forms. Secondly, however well read a professor might be, he still needs to re-read the texts in order to be prepared for class, and I found this to be an excellent learning experience. Writers like Thomas Hardy, Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck whom I’d read as a schoolboy and an undergraduate, and believed then to be great, did not survive the re-reading which exposed their shortcomings and faults. I understood then that since most people don’t have the opportunity to re-read life in life, they hold on to the opinions formed in their earlier years when they were most impressionable and that probably accounts for the enduring high reputation of those writers.

First of all, I would doubt very much that the general reader doesn’t re-read, particularly books that said reader has found to be favorites.

But also, the people judging Hemingway and Hardy as classics are mostly profs like Ghose who have done a fair amount of re-reading in their lives. (Either that or non-academic professional critics, if such a thing still exists, and the same logic applies.) I think more than a statement on re-reading, this answer amounts to “I don’t like Hemingway and Hardy, so people who do clearly must not have re-read them as much as I have.”


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Too, he makes no distinction between re-reading for class and re-reading for, well, anything that isn’t college credit. Sounds like someone’s whose academic career made them forget one or two essential things.

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