Thursday, October 27, 2016

You Are What You Read: How The Power of Myth Showed Me The “Penultimate Truth”

In my Critical Responses to Poetry course, we were discussing theories of identity in literature, and how literature not only expresses/records the world around us, but consciously shapes it by the very act of description. That is, people read these works and then imitate them, making a second-hand version of life into a performance of life itself. In Chapter 8 of his book, Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction, he writes,

“Literature has not only made identity a theme; it has played a significant role in the construction of the identity of readers...Literary works encourage identification with characters by showing things from their point of view. Poems and novels address us in ways that demand identification, and identification works to create identity; we become who we are by identifying with figures we read about” (113). 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Debt of Authorship: And Who Has To Pay?

What does an author owe to his or her readers? A book, certainly. But beyond that, does the contract between writer and fan demand any further obligation? For example, what about a real name? We all know that many authors opt for a pen name, some as simple as J.K. Rowling, while others create a completely false identity to throw off the scent in case he/she has a respectable day job which might be threatened by purple prose and exotic sex scenes. And some authors, of course, switch genders in the fear that boys won’t read books by girls—or vice versa. At the same time, it’s become customary to feature a glossy head shot of the author on the back flap of the book, assuring us that the author has brains and looks. Who wants to read a book by a total fright, after all?