The Risk of Reading: How Literature Helps Us to Understand Ourselves and the World

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9781623563578: The Risk of Reading: How Literature Helps Us to Understand Ourselves and the World
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The Risk of Reading is a defense of the idea that deep and close readings of literature can help us to understand ourselves and the world around us. It explores some of the meaning and implications of modern life through the deep reading of significant books. Waxler argues that we need "fiction" to give our so-called "real life" meaning and that reading narrative fiction remains crucial to the making of a humane and democratic society.

Beginning by exploring the implications of thinking about the importance of story in terms of "real life", The Risk of Reading focuses on the importance of human language, especially language shaped into narrative, and how that language is central to the human quest for identity. Waxler argues that we are "linguistic beings," and that reading literary narrative is a significant way to enrich and preserve the traditional sense of human identity and knowledge. This is especially true in the midst of a culture which too often celebrates visual images, spectacle, electronic devices, and celebrity. Reading narrative, in other words, should be considered a counter-cultural activity crucial on the quest to "know thyself." Reading literature is one of the best opportunities we have today to maintain a coherent human identity and remain self-reflective individuals in a world that seems particularly chaotic and confusing.

Each chapter takes up a well-known work of nineteenth- or twentieth-century literature in order to discuss more fully these issues, exploring, in particular, the notion of life as a journey or quest and the crucial relationship between language and our contingent everyday existence. Of particular interest along the way is the question of what literary narrative can teach us about our mortality and how stories offer opportunities to reflect on the ambivalent and profound meaning of mortal knowledge.

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About the Author:

Robert P. Waxler is Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, USA. Co-Founder and Co-Leader of the Changing Lives Through Literature Program, a nationally recognized alternative sentencing program for criminal offenders.

Review:

"The Risk of Reading is a bracing polemic in an age of digital overload about the centrality of language, in its most inticate narrative and figurative forms, for forging human purpose. Waxler investigates what is essential in literature for reckoning with fundamental experiences of mortality and desire. This is its necessary risk." ―David Sherman, Assistant Professor of English, Brandeis University, USA

"Robert Waxler's The Risk of Reading makes a persuasive case for the significance of literary reading to human life and understanding. In the first chapter, Waxler argues the value of 'deep reading' of literature as a way to journey to new worlds, observing that readers who take the risk also reap the rewards which come from engaging with story and the rich language of narrative. He then guides his readers on a series of journeys through literary works that well illustrate the importance of literature as initiating a deep reading process. In the final chapter, Waxler suggests that the real 'risk of reading' lies in the risk of not reading, especially as electronic media beckon." ―Martha C. Pennington, Distinguished Visiting Professor of English, City University of Hong Kong, and Research Fellow in Language and Communication, Birkbeck College, University of London, UK

"The Risk of Reading is a passionate and provocative account of why literature matters. Waxler provides a practical guide to major works of classic and popular fiction, from Frankenstein to Fight Club, and a powerful and sophisticated argument for the ethical and intellectual value of reading." ―Joshua Kotin, Assistant Professor of English, Princeton University, USA

"The Risk of Reading is a clarion call to protect and perpetuate a centuries old educational tradition of a 'deep reading' of the written literary masterpieces. Although an unintended consequence, that tradition is being threatened by the increasing number of bells and whistles of the current digital culture. The latter is grounded in visual images and sound bytes and does not involve self-reflection and the search for the meaning and purpose of our existence. We are not enjoined, however, to repudiate the digital culture. Instead, we are correctly reminded that there is no digital equivalent of the linguistic narrative in the works of Plato, St. Augustine, Shakespeare, Hemingway, Tolstoy and a legion of other literary giants. Professor Waxler has eloquently and profusely elaborated the uniquely human reality that it is impossible to exaggerate the power of stories, ideas and concepts to grab a mind and radically change the direction of a life." ―Lawrence T. Jablecki, Lecturer in the Master of Liberal Studies Program, Rice University, USA

"Waxler's newest book, [The Risk of Reading: How Literature Helps Us Understand Ourselves and the World], is a ground-breaking publication that 'explores some of the meaning and implications of modern life through the deep reading of significant books.'" ―J. North Conway, Herald News

"Waxler has nine chapters in each of which he discusses a book that you might like to read, to open yourself to the kind of risk of deep reading that he has in mind. ... I found myself engaged by his discussions of them." ―Keith Oatley, Onfiction

"Reading properly, in Waxler's view, teaches us how much we do not know, not how much we know, about our mysterious universe and human interaction ... Waxler is not attempting to imbue his readers with cultural literacy; rather, he's trying to teach them how to read deliberately ... We shouldn't fail to recognize the skill with which Waxler dissects texts." ―Allen Mendenhall, The University Bookman

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Book Description Continuum Publishing Corporation, United States, 2014. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. The Risk of Reading is a defense of the idea that deep and close readings of literature can help us to understand ourselves and the world around us. It explores some of the meaning and implications of modern life through the deep reading of significant books. Waxler argues that we need fiction to give our so-called real life meaning and that reading narrative fiction remains crucial to the making of a humane and democratic society. Beginning by exploring the implications of thinking about the importance of story in terms of real life , The Risk of Reading focuses on the importance of human language, especially language shaped into narrative, and how that language is central to the human quest for identity. Waxler argues that we are linguistic beings, and that reading literary narrative is a significant way to enrich and preserve the traditional sense of human identity and knowledge. This is especially true in the midst of a culture which too often celebrates visual images, spectacle, electronic devices, and celebrity. Reading narrative, in other words, should be considered a counter-cultural activity crucial on the quest to know thyself. Reading literature is one of the best opportunities we have today to maintain a coherent human identity and remain self-reflective individuals in a world that seems particularly chaotic and confusing. Each chapter takes up a well-known work of nineteenth- or twentieth-century literature in order to discuss more fully these issues, exploring, in particular, the notion of life as a journey or quest and the crucial relationship between language and our contingent everyday existence. Of particular interest along the way is the question of what literary narrative can teach us about our mortality and how stories offer opportunities to reflect on the ambivalent and profound meaning of mortal knowledge. Seller Inventory # AA79781623563578

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