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The Pleasures of Reading in an Ideological Age
by Robert Alter
From one of our premier literary scholars, here is a learned and witty introduction to the “sheer vitality of literature and the satisfactions of a close, informed engagement with it” (New York Times). Robert Alter’s illumination of the unique power of reading literature is especially valuable at a time when we are surrounded by electronic texts that distract more than eng ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published November 17th 1996 by W. W. Norton & Company
(first published 1989)
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When I review a book I try to make explicit any personal connections to the work or my reading experience. However, I also engage in formal Literary criticism. By this I mean the evaluation, analysis, description, or interpretation of a literary work. My short essays are thus a mix of both formal criticism and my personal reaction to the book. Sometimes the personal aspect is minimal or non-existent. I always try to make it clear. That there are other readings of a literary text is certainly tru ...more
"Reading is a privileged pleasure because each of us enjoys it, quite complexly, in ways not replicable by anyone else. But there is enough structured common ground in the text itself so that we can talk to each other, even persuade each other, about what we read... one of the most gratifying responses to literary creation, second only to reading itself."
This is indeed a clear and perceptive explanation of the process of literary reading, maintaining the integrity of texts. His chapters on style, allusion and so one are fuly illustrated and encourage reflective reading. Refreshingly, Alter happily uses OT stories and texts to make his points, just as much as those of classic authors.
Robert Bernard Alter (b. 1935) was awarded the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Lifetime Achievement and the PEN Center Literary Award for Translation. He is the Class of 1937 Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley, and has published many acclaimed works on the Bible, literary modernism, and contemporary Hebrew literature.More about Robert Alter...