To cheat, maybe? One of the moral lessons we learned in high school and maybe even some beginning college classes literature are the use of spoilers in reading. No Wikipedia entries, no SparkNotes, no external sources by none other than the self in reading a particular book. Until I realized that all of that doesn’t matter in the comprehension of a book. To read spoilers, and their interpretations of the text, to watch tutorials where the instructor gives us practices in the right direction the next lesson by telling us exactly what to do when we are in an unfamiliar land, can inspire us to become better readers through demonstrating.
Within all of the classic literature, the reason it’s been classified as a classic is not the pretentious use of words of the text, how fanciful the difficulty of the text is. Rather, the classic text is the text that revolutionizes a historical, cultural, political, intellectual, artistic, or philosophical landscape. Nabokov’s Lolita influenced the cultural intersection between the beauty of writing prose with the scatological, and moral nausea. Ulysses’s journey through Ireland inspired an everyman’s life into a form of heroic adventure on the tiers of Odysseus while the style of his stream of thought writing made all that possible. What about Proust, why Proust where I’ve mentioned him countless times? Proust used the combined prose that would form dream-like states for the reader when he’s merely describing the fractals on the stained church windows. He would use the lens of an innocent nine-year-old boy to describe the cheating backstabbing nature of the French 1800s petite bourgeois, in a fashion that combines the political, and philosophical climate of that time.
I did not start reading Proust until listened to the lectures of Proust, of Lolita, of Joyce. I had not read any of the classics until I knew the text, what was going on with the text, what was the genre of the text, because I didn’t have the context of the book. Classical writings require a comprehensive conceptual framework of history, language, culture, history, and intellectual landscape, to have full grasps of it. There is no way in hell I could’ve learned most of it when I was 21. So I delved into the SparkNotes, the reviews, the lectures on the topic. One thing lead to another, and I begin to see links between links, topics within topics, and it became a web of cultural proliferation in those landscapes. A context, in a sense.
Without the context, I would’ve been lost, frustrated, and might have given up. As shown by many of the puzzles on the iPhone.
This post was inspired by this article: The complete guide to reading—and even enjoying—classic literature