Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Two concepts of “the reader” that aren’t necessarily compatible

A problem with the concept of “the reader” is that it can mean two things that aren’t necessarily compatible with each other. On the one hand, there’s a linear reader who reads once from beginning to end. This is the reader Walter Benjamin describes in "The Storyteller" (1936) as having a "consuming interest in the events of the novel", the one who wants to know what is going to happen and why. On the other hand, there is a reader who knows the whole work and has read it repeatedly. This is the reader James Joyce describes in "Finnegans Wake" (1939) as "that ideal reader suffering from an ideal insomnia" (120.13-14). (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 23 April 2024)

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