Chani's Reviews > Comment parler des livres que l'on n'a pas lus?

Comment parler des livres que l'on n'a pas lus? by Pierre Bayard
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Feb 09, 2009

really liked it
Read in March, 2007

Pierre Bayard's theory is that there are many ways towards literature and that one of them might be not reading books. It's quite a joke since the paradox is that you have to read his books to learn about the practice of non-reading. His "narrator" is a Literature lecturer in University, like Bayard himself, who never reads the books he talks about. Bayard even says or makes his narrator say that non-readers are best to speak on literature. Of course it's obvious that you have to have read many books before you can "practice" non-reading for good, therefore that unconventional way to touch on Literature is actually reserved to a certain intelligentsia not to uneducated people. It's very interesting and it's true that we often mention books we have either never read ourselves, but learnt about in a literature course, or we have only skimmed through, or we have completely forgotten. Yet we shameless talk about them and it isn't necessary empty speech or pointless views. My favourite part in Bayard's essay is the idea that it isn't the content of the book that really matters but its connections to other books, or rather that the true content of a book might not be found within the pages but in its connections to other works. It reminds me of Jorge Luis Borges who had a huge literary knowledge but more than once mentioned works he hadn't read himself but had known of through other authors. The most fascinating thing about Borges, that Umberto Eco pointed out in On Literature, is that he often managed to understand the works in question (the ideas, the themes they explore, the subtext) better than their actual readers, without having opened those books.
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