Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I Don't Like Reading Spanish Literature

It is a very paradoxical state of affairs where I like reading Spanish literature so much that it gets to the point where I don't like reading it. Most of the other literature in the world (including Latin American), I can at least try simply to enjoy. However, the moment I open a book from Spain, my brain immediately goes into overdrive.

How does this work of literature inscribe itself into my critical understanding of the time period? Do I need to modify my perception of era, of the writer, of the genre? What will be my own reading of this book? How can I connect it to the entire oeuvre of this author? What type of narrator do I see in this work? What does this tell me? Have I seen this writer move towards this type of narrator in a previous novel? What was it that critic A said about the XYZ subject and can it be related to this work of literature? Who is this politician / writer / painter that is mentioned on page 17? How come I don't know them? When will I order books about them? Where have I seen this metaphor already? What does it mean that I'm encountering it in this text? Why are the chapters named this way (not named, numbered, etc.)?

And it goes on and on forever. Of course, after reading a single 300-page novel, I feel like I've been lugging sacks of flour around. 

Just as I cannot turn off the feminist in me, I cannot turn off the literary critic. How do people turn off their professional identities and just relax?


Anonymous said...

I'm not sure you really can turn it off. I used to enjoy spending weekends programming, or hacking with some new technology just for the fun but ever since I do this for a living I can't help but associate it with deadlines, budgets and requirements and so I feel compelled to plan everything meticulously which takes from it the excitement that used to keep me spending entire days sitting in front of my computer (Now this must sound pretty normal for everyone but this didn’t used to be the normal for everyone back in the 90’s).


Z said...

It is what makes work fatiguing. But, I associate it most with the beginning of a project. If I am working right, then I set hours so as to go in and out of mode. If I don't set a limit to the time I will be in mode, I don't want to start because when will all the synapses end and give me some peace? Also, a lot of exercise helps.

Clarissa said...

Exercise is really the answer. I walked 10 miles yesterday because otherwise the incessant thinking wouldn't have let me sleep.

Anonymous said...

I had the same problem, but I came to the conclusion that this is what literature does: it makes you think, and it is wonderful. You just made a profession out of it.

The best I can do is to try to read a work of fiction without a pencil in my hand to take notes.


Anonymous said...