Edmundson, Mark. Why Read? Bloomsbury, 2004.
Reason read: April is National Library Month. Plus, I needed a short book for the Portland Public Library reading challenge. This fit the bill.
Why Read? is a compilation of the clever thoughts of others. Edmundson is constantly direct quoting, recalling or paraphrasing the intelligent works of Arthur Schoppenhauer, Ann Marlowe, Camille Paglia, David Denby, David Rieff, de Man, Edmund Burke, Friedrich Schiller, Foucault, Frye, George Orwell, Henry James, Harold Bloom, Heidegger, Herman Melville, James Edwards, Keats, Kierkegaard, Karen Armstrong, Jacques Derrida, JH van den Burg, Lionel Trilling, Marcel Proust, Marilyn Butler, Matthew Arnold, Martha Nussbaum, Milan Kundera, Oscar Wilde, the Marquis de Sade, Nietche, Paul Cantor, Paul Ricoeur, Sir Philip Sidney, Richard Rorty, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Robert Frost, Robert McKee, Simon Frith, Stanley Fish, Socrates, Sigmund Freud, T.S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, Walter Jackson Bate, William B. Yeats, Wordsworth (among others), without a single footnote or bibliography, works cited page, or what have you. Sections on the connections to God, questioning God, and delving into the importance of critical thinking had me yawning. Is it deliberate that Edmundson’s examples of his students are mostly female? Just curious.
My favorite sections are when Edmundson was drawing connections to humanism – finding the deep parallels between individual reality and literary imagination. Can we identify with Hamlet’s situation? How does this relate to the here and now?
Author fact: Edmundson likes to start his book titles with the word why.
Book trivia: Why Read? is a very short book, but should not be read in one sitting.
Playlist: Keith Richards, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Muddy Waters, and Britney Spears.
Nancy said: Pearl called Why Read? stimulating,
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Dewey Deconstructed 800s” (p 76).