The Multiple Possibilities of Reading
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Two types of reader are delineated: the non-professional and the professional (literary critics, teachers, etc.). Directing his argument to the latter, Vernay surveys the critical theories that dominated the twentieth century, arguing that they all prioritized “scientific principles,” objectifying interpretation, discouraging readers from expressing feelings. Compelled to write “scientific reports” of books, students have turned away from reading. We should aim instead for “active appropriation,” based on the alchemy of intellect and emotions, whereby readers as co-creators of texts aim not so much to discover what texts mean, as how they achieve results. Feelings will make literature intelligible; it is thus the “impression” a reader forms that is important, here offered as an approach for reading a text, a way of attracting new generations of readers.