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Thread: Does literary analysis ruin a book?

 
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    Default Does literary analysis ruin a book?

    I had a literature professor in high school who was close to genious. She was a great professor but made us analize the texts we read so much that in some ways, she ruined the books for me. I remember she had us actually count sentences per page, count pronouns, document the sentence structure, diagram the sentences, etc. While it taught me how to analyze a piece of literature more in depth, it also made reading a "chore" at that time.

    On the other hand, I had a Shakespeare class with this same professor and by taking apart the text I was able to gain a whole new perspective about the work, so in that case I was really glad to analyze it so much.

    So....does in-depth analysis change your understanding of the text in a positive/negative way, or is it preferrable to read a novel/poetry etc. with a blank slate? What do you think?

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    Years ago we read L'Etranger by Albert Camus in our French class. If you haven't read it, it's worth reading. It's about an unusual fellow who kills an Arab in North Africa. During the trial, questions posed to him seemed to come from one plane while his responses came from another. The trial did not go well for him. His attitude (completely misunderstood by others) convicted him, not the incident. (I vaguely remember that people were upset when he said he had not cried when his mother died. Well, anyone who wouldn't cry over the death of his mother has to be a terrible person.)

    The professor said the book became an immediate success in France. As I recall, it was published just after the German occupation. Everyone read it.

    Soon a book was published to explain and analyse the Camus book. And then other books were published. As I recall, about 70 explanations were published. Eventually, even Camus wrote a book to explain what he had written.

    Analysts loved to analyse his constant references to the sun. Camus used the sun to mean this, Camus used the sun to mean that... Camus wrote that he had used the sun to represent the sun. Hey, it's hot in North Africa. Ever live there? It's hot. Real hot. When you live there, you think about the sun a lot. The sun meant the sun. The sun did not mean his father, an unhappy childhood, an oppressive government, or his grandmother's cookies. The sun meant the sun. Nothing else. And what did the analysts say then? They said that subconsciously Camus had used the sun to represent... Jalisco no te rajes. You can take a horse to water, but...

    Wasn't it Freud who said, "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar"? Sometimes things are what they are.

    An analysis is just an opinion. The analyst is not blessed by the gods with insight. Just like an opinion, an analysis can be good or bad or somewhere in between.

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    Thanks Thomas...I am generally of the same mindset when it comes to literary critics. I think by nature of their profession and the competition that exists among critics, they feel compelled to say something profound and new about each work...but like you say, sometimes the author says it all.

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    Senior Member Gabriel's Avatar
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    Well, I remember when I was studying translation we used to analyze the texts both from the grammar point of view and hermeneutically. I guess you gain some perspective you wouldn't have been able to have otherwise, but also you leave behind some naivity when facing the work. I don't regret having lost that naivity because I feel I gained a lot by learning what I've learned.

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    I was an English major, and for four and a half years, I analyzed literary work. Since last December, when I graduated, I haven't read a book for fun. hmmm.....
    ja, no, I love reading critically. But I think for a while, it may have exhausted me. Anyone else?

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    Default The Glasses Episode

    I like the sienfeld plots, and though I'm a relatively uneducated college boy, I jotted some notes about the glasses episode, and have made a decided opinion on it, and have tried to wonder what makes the plot attractive.

    {Jerry wears glasses (to decieve)}
    to Make Lyod Brann... appear (sane) \ to himself or (that which is him)
    {By wearing the glasses, Jerry (is decieved) he does not recognize George},
    And so George... appears (crazy) \ to another or (that which is not him.)

    The fact that a single imperfect act (Jerry wearing glasses) has two effects, one which is good for Lyod and the other which is bad for George, must account for some of the virtue of the plot, I think, because I think that action/effect ratio within a favored farce prefers more effects than actions. George and Llyod are somewhat diametricly opposed, as they say. The pair of results of jerry's meddling and the specific directions of pair of results are each paired opposites when George and Lloyd are compared, which in itself is not at all greatly meaningful as far as I can see, but the fact that the author has demonstrated the ability to create a kind of symetry with the matter he has chosen to deal with is formidable, I think.
    {} the sienfeld plots make use of mundane objects and I would say more or less grant them a role in the plot. In the case of the glasses, wearing glasses was first done to decieve, and then wearing glasses caused Jerry to be decieved when Jerry did not recongnize George. Again I would say the author found or made the opportunity for Diametric opposistion, as I have said, and made the diametric-opposition qualities of the glasses result in diametric-opposition consequences for Jerry's friends. And so by reproducing the criteria of diametric opposition, the author shows that he can join situations with purpose, and perhaps it is convenient to convey purpose by repetition, cause what is done more than once might likely be on purpose and not a fluke.
    I think the author started the plot from thinking on how the wrong glasses make it harder to see, and I think that he went from there. If at that point he wanted to lay for diametetric opposition he would have thought on how as the wrong glasses decieve the man who wears them, that diametricly they could just as well decieve others that the man did in fact wear glasses. Then I would say it was left for the author to place the two deceptions in a situation where such trivias were important.
    In the seinfeld episodes, and lots of sitcoms, it seems like the characters return to their original lot at the end, for the most part, and I think that it is by this convention the author of the episode is able to express his talent, in part, and that evidence of talent is in general what makes farce attractive. The characters, or, through proper justice, fate (which can be said a shady character) solve problems, expressing their own collective talent, and although they ultimately imede eachother from great lasting achievment, quickly suggesting a confederacy of dunces, it is only for keeping the company of talent that their own talent's were for not, and since everything was contrived by the author his talent is shown, and ultimately admired, I think.
    I think maybe talent itself causes admiration, and admiration causes beauty, and beauty causes a mirror.
    I don't think analysis can ruin these sienfelds. And I'm bound to have an opinion on them after having seeing them so many times. But while I think analysis does not ruin, I do not mean to suggest that analysis is required of the beholder. It's just a branch of curiosity I would say.
    http://www.geocities.com/estreightof...et/riddle.html
    Last edited by 'enry'iggins; 09-20-2007 at 11:02 AM. Reason: correction

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    There's a nice quote by Mark Twain at the beginning of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn that touches on this.

    "Persons attempting to find a Motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a Moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a Plot in it will be shot."

    Like everyone has said, literary analysis varies for me. Some critics have opened my eyes to things and made me think about a story in a way I never would have before. Others make me angry and feel like I need to defend the author.

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