June 13, 2008
A couple of weeks ago I posted about an article on Scott I found at The Reader Online. I've since spent quite a bit of time exploring the website for The Reader Organization, including learning more about the affiliated "Get Into Reading" program, the "Reading in Practice" MA at the University of Liverpool, and The Reader Magazine itself. Yesterday I also downloaded Issue 29, currently available for free from the website. I am fascinated and energized by what I have found, especially in the magazine, which includes, along with a range of new poetry and fiction, several examples of a genre of writing (or criticism) I have been trying to imagine for about 18 months, namely serious literary commentary written for (but not underestimating) a non-academic audience. For instance, Issue 29 includes a sort of round-table on Wordsworth's The Prelude with contributors including Stephen Gill, Michael O'Neill and David Wilson; an essay by A. S. Byatt on "the ways that novelists have taken up the slack after the absconding of God. Post-Darwin, post-Freud, human identity is an arena of DNA and sex. Can science and our own biological reality offer a route away from our narcissism?"; essays on Conrad; book reviews; and much more, including features specifically designed to help "readers connect." I highly recommend downloading it for yourself and taking a look at this publication, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. Perhaps you will find yourself surprised and frustrated, as I am, to be learning about it so belatedly. (Though maybe it is already widely known and I was just unaware of it. Do I blame myself--for having academic ostrich syndrome--or distance--as I am not aware that the magazine has distribution in Canada?) Perhaps you will also find yourself inspired, as I am, to see such a reconciliation between 'readerly' and academic approaches to literature--and grateful to the internet, for making connections and discoveries like this possible...I'm not aware of another publication (or organization) quite like this one, in its joint attention to contemporary and 'classic' texts--though I'd be happy to learn that there are such.