05/11/2011

LITERARY BLOG HOP - TO WHAT EXTENT DO YOU ANALYZE LITERATURE?

Literary Blog Hop
This monthly blog hop is hosted at The Blue Bookcase . I know it's close to its deadline but I've just discovered this event and found it so interesting that I made up my mind and joined the discussion. This month's question is...


To what extent do you analyze literature? Are you more analytical in your reading if you know you're going to review the book? Is analysis useful in helping you understand and appreciate literature, or does it detract from your readerly experience


I tend to analyze whatever I read as a professional bias. I studied literature, I teach literature, I analyze or compare the texts I read. However, I hate dissecting literary texts and I don't usually teach literature that way. I still remember the awful sensation of hating a literary work while working on its detailed analysis, so this is just what I avoid doing with my students. They are just teenagers, English (as a foreign language) is compulsory in their curriculum,  so they are not specializing students who chose to study English Literature. This is another reason why I avoid proposing them a technical study of  literary texts. I'd like to make them love reading  novels or poetry and often the first reason why they hate those texts is because they usually study them that way at school.

However, what I do as a reader is inevitably to analyze, not only when I decide to review a book I'm reading on Fly High or My Jane Austen Book Club, but in general, whenever I read and that even when I read fanfiction or chick lit. Because I've read lots of that stuff too,  recently. Attempt to escape or to widen my horizons, I actually did it and liked it a lot (mind you, not in any case). 

My tendency to analyze and compare what I read does not detract my readerly experience, the more I read the more I like doing it. Analyzing increase the pleasure, it doesn't deminish it. You understand more, hence you appreciate or dislike  what you read more .

What is your personal attitude and experience in reading literary texts? I'd love to hear from you.

18 comments:

Red said...

As long as you're not analyzing because you're forced to, but because you want to, can make all the difference in enjoying the experience. Like you said, so many people hate analyzing lit (or even just plain hate lit) because of the over-analyzing they ended up doing in school.

MARIA GRAZIA said...

Hello Red! Welcome on Fly High. You are definitely right, if analyzing doesn't come as an imposition and comes more as a need, welcome to a deeper level of reading.

Jillian said...

*...the more I read the more I like doing it.*

*You understand more, hence you appreciate or dislike what you read more...*


These are really great points -- that practice makes analysis almost second nature, and that its implementation results in a better understanding of the text.

I love that you focus on the joy of literature, as a teacher. :-)

As the Crowe Flies and Reads said...

I was the English major who loved her coursework until literary theory raised its ugly head. I still don't think it's the most important thing about reading, and while I'm sure I do more analyzing than I'm aware of, it tends to fall more along the lines of feminist or cultural criticism. But I do feel that I've left most of that behind when I left academia.

MARIA GRAZIA said...

Thanks @Jillian and @As the Crowe Files and Reads visiting Fly High!
Isn't this discussion definitely interesting? I've read here and there what is going on the other blogs involved and it's so stimulating to read, share and meet.

I read and appreciated your blogposts too and thought that wondering how and why we read can help to make us all better, more active, readers.

Veronica Monique said...

When I'm reading I find that I am of two minds. I allow myself to get swept along with the story, but there is another part of me that is analyzing compulsively. I have always enjoyed looking at literature and teasing out character and plot elements. However, I'd have to agree that if it doesn't come naturally as an enriching element of fun to the reading then it becomes a very dull chore that can kill the enjoyment of a story.

Prue Batten said...

Before I began writing, my analysis of literature was simplistic... loved it, didn't love it, and then I 'd move onto the next book. I think I was burned out with analysis after finishing university.
But then as an emerging writer, I began to observe what other writers were doing (or not as the case may be) to make their novels work. It was, and is, enlightening.
But when I read for pleasure, I have to remind myself not to analyse so that I can just enjoy.

What I will say, is how much I depend on the kind of analysis that you deliver,MG, as it invariably sends me off in search of a book that I find I really must read.
So thank you for your work... you do it well!

Delia (Postcards from Asia) said...

I used to dislike analyzing books (it comes from having to do it while in school) but all that changed when I started my book-blog. My reviews are very personal, because what I usually remember about a book, even if the story gets lost in the mist of memory, is the way it made me feel.

Ally said...

For me, it always comes down to having or usually not having time to think deeper about a book. I am so thrilled I have time to read a few pages daily that I sometimes completely forget about the "literary dimension" :)

MARIA GRAZIA said...

You put it right @Veronica Monique, analysis shouldn't be a dull chore imposed by school or university, it may spoil the pleasure of reading. But how does it come out naturally? Reading much as a simple fruitor of stories? That can work, but not in any case. Some tools must be given, I think.
As @Ally says what I try to do is to give my students the impression we are forgetting, neglecting the literary dimension. We often focus on ideas and feelings, on their reactions as readers to the words used by the narrator. While discussing the most thrilling elements in the plot, I passed them elements of literary analysis. They usually like discussing stories and characters, ideas and feelings.

Thank a lot, @Prue. You are always too kind to me. I'm not sure I deserve your trust as a reviewer. I try to use both mind and heart, if you know what I mean. And, I always try to respect the work of a writer -as I do with my students' papers. I mean, I always try to find the good in it, then I analyze the defects. I often have a hard time with my students' papers - LOL - , rarely with authors. There's always something good to find in a story. Well, it has RARELY happened , but when I don't like a book, I can be terrible! However, thanks Prue. I'm flattered by your compliments because you write so beautifully that I feel ashamed you spent time reading my ramblings and scribbling here at FLY HIGH!
And, finally, @Delia, I agree with you. Blogging about books (and many other things in my case) definitely increases our critical attitude, our analytical spirit. And sharing and comparing is so enriching too!

Sam (Tiny Library) said...

You are so right about over-analysing. I HATED Frankenstein when I read it in school for that reason.

I tend to do my analysing after I have read the book and had a chance to step back and think about it. I just get caught up in the experience when I am actually reading.

MARIA GRAZIA said...

Hello @Sam!
I usually read your reviews and they are very personal and definitely honest. And that's what counts for a book blogger.
Just try to do me a favour: give Mary Shelley's Frankenstein another chance. It is an extraordinary book. I don't like gothic tales as much as you and I find it extremely interesting, so it's a pity you got to hate it.

Thanks for visiting and commenting.

Anonymous said...

The university experience tends to linger, but in a gentler, kinder way. The urge to analyze remains, but it can be tempered by enjoyment or not enjoyment of a work. I've re-read the classics occasionally post-uni for enjoyment. Then analysis kicks in. Why do I enjoy Emma, and detest Persuasion? What is it about Emma Woodhouse that draws a personal response, while I want to shake Anne Eliot out her pious docility? Etc. etc. We probably develop a balanced approach. And of course, especially for teaching, the intended audience has an effect on approach.

fitzg

MARIA GRAZIA said...
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MARIA GRAZIA said...
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MARIA GRAZIA said...

@fitzg
Ehm ... detest Persuasion? ... shake Anne Elliot? :O
Ok, I'll forgive you, since you are always so kind to me and we share much. Except this, it seems: Persuasion is my favourite Austen and I AM ANNE ELLIOT. Mind you, I'm not as docile as her, though. :-)
Thanks for your comment!

Pippi Bluestocking said...

It's so interesting to see how many people dislike literary analysis...I think it robs away the pleasure, mostly because it's done in a very, very wrong way. We must change this! Let's revolutionise the world of literature!

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@Pippi Bluestocking
Hello Pippi! I like revolutions though I hate violence. I agree with you, literature must be lived freely.