The History of “Loving” to Read

[In rhetorical culture, the most important writing was au courant, and the “best” readers made use of it to enhance their own eloquence. But in an appreciative, literary age, the most important books are the ones that have outlasted their eras, and the “best” readers are people who are especially susceptible to emanations from other times and places. Being a reader becomes an identity unto itself.]

[… Then there’s the case of the English professor. Judging by Lynch’s history, professors are doubly trapped. Their deep love of books isn’t just unrequited; it’s inexpressible. Even when they talk about the writers they love, professors have to keep it professional—which, of course, only reinforces the idea that there’s a divide between loving literature and thinking about it. Lynch’s book shows that loving literature is a performance, the acting-out of a centuries-old metaphor. If that’s true, then its opposite—cool, detached, academic cerebrality—is also a performance. It’s a tough spot. Unable to embrace the cheese and camp of being a book lover, professors find themselves in a camp all their own.]  Read the full article | The New Yorker

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