How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read, By Pierre Bayardtrs Jeffrey Mehlman
Sunday 18 January 2009
A jeu d'esprit stretched out to 185 pages, HtTABYHR maintains, by use of dodgy logic and playful perversity, that talking about books you haven't read is not only a necessity but a creative activity to be proud of. It's full of paradoxes ("Reading is first and foremost non-reading"), and it's part of the joke that Pierre Bayard is obviously extremely well-read, a professor of literature who quotes Proust, Musil, Shakespeare, Valéry, Graham Greene, etc. He has a system of categorising books: SB (skim-read book), FB (forgotten book), HB (heard-of book) and UB (unknown book). A plus sign or double-plus sign indicate positive and extremely positive opinions, a minus or double-minus sign the opposites.
This is the sort of witty, provocative intellectualism that the French are so fond of, and if you're fond of it too then you'll love this. Personally, in my boring British empirical, way I maintain that you can only know (and enjoy) books by reading them. Bayard's point that when you're reading one book you're neglecting all the others is true but banal. Overall verdict: SB -. The fact that my opinion of Bayard's book is based on a skim-reading, however, suggests there must at least be something to his theory.
BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital moveTV
FestivalsFive ways to avoid the portable toilets
Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Michael Douglas regrets 'embarrassing' Catherine Zeta-Jones with oral sex comments
- 2 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 3 Tunisian builder has been hailed a hero after knocking gunman to the ground with roof tiles
- 4 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 5 Fifty Shades of Grey author E.L James's Twitter Q&A didn't go exactly as planned
Amy Winehouse film director: 'I wanted to show the fun, bright-eyed girl we didn't know'
Orange Is The New Black season 3 episode 1, review: The Ross and Rachel-ness of Piper and Alex is starting to grate
The picture of a man crowd surfing in a wheelchair at Glastonbury is brilliant, but it wasn't taken at Glastonbury
Fifty Shades of Grey author E.L James's Twitter Q&A didn't go exactly as planned
Guillaume Tell, Royal Opera House, review: Gang rape and stripping naked of female actor met with boos
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
David Cameron struck double blow in his hopes to win Britain a new EU deal
Extend Right To Buy to tenants of private landlords, Labour's Jeremy Corbyn says
Pentagon accuses Russia of 'playing with fire' over nuclear threats towards Nato