More than you ever wanted to know (was Re: answers from Diana)

Anna Skarzynska theania at
Fri May 25 07:06:13 EDT 2001

Am I the only person who dislikes lit crit and dissecting literature? I
remember at school being told what the poet/author/whatever was thinking
when s/he wrote the work several hundred years ago, and thinking: Yes? And
how do YOU know that? And in what way is this relevant? And who, indeed,
cares? Is this singularly pointless, or what?
I do understand that some works have many layers, historical, mythological,
religious or literary allusions etc. and that understanding and identifying
those helps one to understand and appreciate the work in question. Yes, I
want to be told that this was written during the English Civil War. No, I
don't want all the waffle about the author's state of mind and his stylistic
If it's any good, it will stand up by itself. For example, I read Dylan
Thomas in translation when I lived in Poland. I loved it. I then read it in
English when I was living in London. Great. Another layer of enjoyment
added, original always superior to translation etc. I then moved to Wales.
It added yet another level to my understanding and enjoyment. But I liked it
so much that I enjoyed it even in translation and no amount of dissection
would have either added to it or detracted therefrom. My own experiences
influenced how I related to it.

Anyway, maybe I'm a philistine, or just stupid, but lit crit is THE cure for
insomnia as far as I'm concerned. I'd much rather read the work itself.


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