Saturday, September 8, 2007

Rereading Classics

“When you reread a classic, you do not see more in the book than you did before; you see more in YOU than there was before.”
--Clifton Fadiman

Hmmm. This is clever and basically true, but aren't these two items simply the same thing stated in different words? I think that in rereading you see more in the book because there is more in you. Since your original reading you now have more experience, more perspective and more background, so things that previously flew over your head (or were just off your radar screen) are now apparent. But that "something more" which you've now discovered in the book was really already there.

Here's a different process than the one Fadiman describes: having a new bit of insight in response to rereading a book. Insight is a conclusion triggered by what you've read, but it's not necessarily the author's conclusion and it's not something that was in the book already. Insight comes from inside you, a flash of truth ignited by the Holy Spirit, though whether or not it bursts into flame or weakly flickers out is dependent on our will and whether or not we've gathered enough good tinder for it.

I still like the quote though.


Anonymous said...

Trying again (usually this blogging site just hangs, and won't post my comment, but I got one in a couple weeks ago, and will keep trying)

I feel the way you do, that he's saying the same thing in different ways. But I like your graph. Closer to my sense of rereads and new insights gained.

Catholic Bibliophagist said...


Sorry you're having problems posting.

I'm not sure why that would be.