david-baptiste's Reviews > How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read

How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read by Pierre Bayard
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Jun 08, 2009

bookshelves: currently-reading, re-rereading

I'm rereadig this at a book store abt a year after i first read it, when itcame out in english. Bayrd has a new book outin france i have found excerpts from on line--inc. one inenglish--i nwhich he tackles the questions of reviewing, esp of books he puts in a select category which is that which emocpasses the worst books or unifinsed works of great or at least good writers.

In the How to talk book, Bayard is examing some of the implications which the old "Bluffer's Guyides" mapped out as "taekn for granted" social/diplomatic policeis--that is, how to seem s though one has amuch borader filed of specialized kjknwoeldges packed in one's mind and ready at the drop of a aht to be able to propound upon them, though one may have not read a bokk, seeen a film hgeard some muci--nonetheless one hold's one
's own even among the more than usually informed.

(The Bluffer's Guide for Cinema was actully very good-veyr subversive in implications in ways Bayard isnot. After al he is a professor of Literature so can't write about not reading at all!)
Bayard's primary insight is that i the ways one speaks about, and hasgathered theinformation used to speak about, books one has not read, or has but forgotten al but the title of, or may have read, feels likeone has butis not really sure--and other such asepcts of "reaading"--in constructing or investi8agintg these, each person i in effect contributing to an evr ongoing wwiurting of these books and of new books of one's own.
Thisis in keeping with the law which states that no emergy is lost even when converted to another form--
In this sense, though don't think the author had this in min, one may read the book as a akindof reassurance re the economy of writing in relation to its being tlaked about, as much as more than being read.

The mergy opf writ9ing not coonverted to that of reading there fore is not lost in the non-=readings or forggotten readings, but is recuperated in the talking about the books, evenif they thesmlevs are but close to being as it were empty vessels.

All the unwritten spoken about logomania around writte texts then has a chnace through sheer humbers of granting the prorbality of the regenerstation and gereation outof the non read but written materials in to yet more writings . . . as wel as more readings as more tlaked about versions become evermore talked about and so at some point, again given the laws of proabality, wil engender a few or many new actaul readers of the writing--

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