NYRB Classics discussion

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General > Introductions and Afterwords

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message 1: by Louise (new)

Louise | 491 comments Mod
Most NYRB Classics have either an introduction or an afterword included. Do you read them, and if so do you read them before you start the book, or after you have finished it?

I personally prefer reading the introductions after I have read the book so I have a better idea what the writer of the intro is talking about.


message 2: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 6 comments I use to always read the introduction prior to reading the book but only do so sporadically now. I’ll read up to where it appears too much of the book is given away and then I’ll stop and wait to read it afterwards. I made mention recently of an excellent introduction by Jhumpa Lahiri for the book, Trick by Domenico Starnone. She set just the right tone for this fascinating translated work. She’s pretty extraordinary herself.


message 3: by Louise (last edited Dec 10, 2018 07:05AM) (new)

Louise | 491 comments Mod
I believe Jhumpa Lahiri wrote an introduction for one of Mavis Gallant's story collections. Now I'm intrigued enough to go read it.


message 4: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 6 comments Louise wrote: "I believe Jhumpa Lahiri wrote an introduction for one of Mavis Gallant's story collections. Now I'm intrigued enough to go read it."

So am I, Louise. I was really unprepared for that introduction by her and really glad I read it PRIOR to reading the book.


message 5: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl | 127 comments I always read them, I usually read them after. Not just to avoid spoilers but because I don't want someone else's thoughts to prejudice me or point me in directions; they can point me in directions after.

Terry Castle's introduction to Victorine (a novel I hated) was very enlightening.


message 6: by WndyJW (new)

WndyJW | 288 comments I read them afterwards for fear of spoilers, but I do read them.


message 7: by Antonomasia (new)

Antonomasia | 44 comments Yes. I don't read that many NYRB editions, as quite a few of the books have different publishers in the UK, but I've always read introductions first, ever since I started reading classics. They aren't usually the sort of book that I feel is spoiled by knowing the ending (Sherlock Holmes stories were an exception) and the benefits of having other themes and details pointed generally outweighs drawbacks of spoilers.
Another benefit I find since using GR is that they stop me thinking about common complaints about a book I've seen in online posts (the reviews and opinions that get stuck in my head that badly tend to be one dimensional) by providing a different slant and more complex ideas, and sometimes specialist knowledge. e.g. about 18th century British legal system in an introduction to Tom Jones


message 8: by Mirko (new)

Mirko | 77 comments Louise wrote: "I believe Jhumpa Lahiri wrote an introduction for one of Mavis Gallant's story collections. Now I'm intrigued enough to go read it."

Indeed. :)

Jhumpa Lahiri wrote the introduction for The Cost of Living

As a side note, Michael Ondaatje, selected Mavis Gallant's stories for Paris Stories and also wrote the introduction for that collection.

I have read three of the collections and loved all three of them. I have the forth one waiting. :)

I do read the introduction and/or the afterword. I usually start with reading the introduction as it helps me to get into the novel or story collection. I have found that introductions have not influenced me in terms of how I feel about a book, or given too much away that I lost interest.

I find the biographical notes and the influences that an author might have been exposed to mentioned in introductions, allows me to place myself in their shoes, and I can 'picture' things better.


message 9: by Randolph (new)

Randolph (us227381) I never read reviews or introductions before reading a books but I will sometimes look at ratings.


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