Sunday, April 17, 2011

First Steps

In attempting to take up a book and read it closely, one might choose to spend a while thinking about theories of close reading or thinking about what kind of book this is and in what way it would be best to interpret it.

Unfortunately, that one would be a fool, because that kind of work relies on a familiarity with the text which can only be gained by asking the first questions first.

The first questions, in books with characters, are (1) What is Dr. Smith doing? (2) why does Dr. Smith do what he does here? (3) How do we know that's why? and -- once we identify the most likely motivation -- (4) what do we think of Dr. Smith and his action?

* These questions are sometimes very easy to answer, sometimes very hard to answer.

In my second post -- coming later tonight, Ms. W -- I'll begin by trying to answer these questions with regard to Ch. 1.

-- Mr. M

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