Monday, July 13, 2009

A History of Reading (2)

Alberto Manguel. New York: Penguin Books USA, Inc. 1996.

Why read it? Do you have questions about reading? You read. But do you think about the process of reading? Is the way you read the way everybody else reads? How has reading changed over the years? This book is, in a sense, the author’s autobiographical account of his reading and an historical account of the development of reading. In explaining his experience of reading, he answers other readers’ questions about their reading. He provides a number of interesting thoughts about the nature of reading.

Sample quotes and ideas:

“Something in the relationship between a reader and a book is recognized as wise and fruitful, but it is also seen as disdainfully exclusive and excluding….” p. 21.

“…artificial dichotomy between life and reading….” p. 21.

“Told that we are threatened with extinction, we, today’s readers, have yet to learn what reading is.” p. 23.

“…by the first makers of books, who found the methods of scroll-reading (like the methods we now use to read on our computers) too limiting and cumbersome, and offered us instead the possibility of flipping through pages and scribbling in margins.” p. 23.

“…the act of reading itself…skips chapters, browses, selects, rereads, refuses to follow conventional order.” p. 23.

[Reading]: “…required for its successful performance the coordination of a hundred different skills.” p. 34.

“We ‘discover’ a word because the object or idea it represents is already in our mind, ‘ready to be linked up with the word.’ ” p. 35.

Dr. Merlin C. Wittrock, in the 1980s: “Readers attend to the text…create images…generate meaning as they read by constructing relations between their knowledge, their memories of experience, and the written sentences, paragraphs and passages.” p. 38.

“…believe that its [reading’s] complexity may be as great as that of thinking itself.” p. 39.

“…neither is it [reading] a monolithic, unitary process where only one meaning is correct.” p. 39.

“Eyes scanning the page, tongue held still: that is exactly how I would describe a reader today…the reader has become deaf and blind to the world, to the passing crowds, to the chalky, flesh-colored facades of the buildings.” p. 42.

“Nobody seems to notice a concentrating reader: withdrawn, intent….” p. 43.

“Not until the tenth century does this [silent] manner of reading become usual in the West.” p. 43.

“Until well into the Middle ages, writers assumed that their readers would hear rather than simply see the text, much as they themselves spoke their words out loud as they composed them; since comparatively few people could read, public readings were common….” p. 47.

To be continued.

No comments:

Post a Comment