SMC229H1 - Study Notes 2.docx

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St. Michael's College Courses
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Jenna Sunkenberg

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SMC229H1 STUDY NOTES 2A HISTORY OF READING ALBERTO MANGUELMETAPHOR OF READINGWhitman learned to read in a Quaker school in Brooklyn by what was known as the Lancastrian methodA single teacher helped by child monitors was in charge of a class of some one hundred students ten to a deskThe youngest were taught in the basement the older girls on the ground floor and the older boys on the floor aboveIt makes such difference where you readThe place of reading as Whitman suggests is important not only because it provides a physical setting for the text being read but because it suggests by juxtaposing itself with the place on the page that both share the same hermeneutic quality both tempting the reader with the challenge of elucidationWhile believing that books could not replace actual experience Fuller saw in them a medium for viewing all humanity a core around which all knowledge all experience all science all ideal as well as all the practical in our nature could gatherFor Whitman text author reader and world mirrored each other in the act of readingThe reader reflects the writer the world echoes a book the book is of flesh and blood the world is a book to be decipheredReading is both itself and the metaphor for all its partsTo say that an author is a reader or a reader an author to see a book as a human being or a human being as a book to describe the world as text or a text as the world are ways of naming the readers craftJewish Christian and Islamic societies developed a profound symbolic relationship with their holy books which were not symbols of gods word but gods word itselfAccording to Curtius the idea that the world and nature are books derives from the rhetoric of the catholic church and finally become a commonplacethFor the 16 century Spanish mystic Fray Luis de Granada if the world is a book then the things of this world are the letters of the alphabet in which this book is writtenWe are to read the excellency of our creator There are books in which the footnotes or the comments scrawled by some readers hand in the margin are more interesting than the text the world is one of these booksOur task as Whitman pointed out is to read the world since that colossal book is the only source of knowledge for mortalsHuman beings are also books to be readThe act of reading serves as a metaphor to help us understand our hesitant relationship with our body the encounter and the touch and the deciphering of signs in another personReading serves as a metaphoric vehicle but in order to be understood must itself be recognized through metaphorsSome books are to be tasted others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digestedReaders make a book theirs the end is that book and reader become oneThe world that is a book is devoured by a reader who is a letter in the worlds text thus a circular metaphor is crated for the endlessness of readingWe are what we readNo reading can ever be definitiveSTEALING BOOKSI know that something dies when I give up my books and that my memory keeps going back to them with mournful nostalgiaThe collecting of ancient things became a bourgeois hobbythIn the 19 century it had become a fashionable European pastimeCuriosity shops flourished antique dealers amassed caches of prerevolutionary treasures which were bought and then displayed in the home museums of the nouveaux riches Books were among the most copious remains left behind by the revolution Books were as much symbols of social standing as finery and deportmentthFrom roughly the end of the 12 century books became recognized as items of trade and in Europe the commercial value of books was sufficiently established for moneylenders to accept them as collateralMost had the value of intimate objectsfamily heirlooms objects that only their hands and the hands of their children would ever touchFor that reason libraries became one of the obvious targets of the revolutionThe books which the revolution had requisitioned and which had been neither destroyed nor sold abroad were eventually distributed among public reference libraries but few readers made use of themCount Libri was one of the most accomplished book thieves of all time th17 century stealing books is not a crime unless the books are soldArmed with official credentials dressed in a huge cloak under which he concealed his treasures Libri gained access to libraries across France where his specialized knowledge enabled him to pick out the hidden plumsAlso cut out single pages which he then exhibited and sometimes soldThe theft of books was not a new crime in Libris time
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