“The striking peculiarity of Shakespeare’s mind is its power of communication with all other minds.” This is the first quotation that really jumped out at me. I have always wondered what make some books really popular while other books tend to just fizzle out and never really get much acclaim. Why do books like The Da Vinci Code go to the top of the New York Times bestseller list while others like Literature, Criticism and Theory never even come close to achieving the audience of the former? This quote seems to sum that up. While providing some really interesting topics for people interested in the study of English literature, the extent of the audience, or people interested in what the book is telling, is not nearly as large as hordes of people who line up to find conspiracy theories in things ranging from monumental buildings to blades of grass. The popular success of a work really depends on the author’s ability to connect with as many readers as possible.
The way the book talks about the relationship between the reader and the author, or as the book says, the reader’s projection of the author, kind of ties in with the concept of layers in the reading that the previous section in the book was talking about. There is the actual author of the text, but the reader only ever gets to know his concept of the author through the reading – another level of separation from reader to author. I think that this is a really interesting aspect to consider in the reader’s interpretation of the events and characters in the novel.
I was struck by the line on page 21 about the language controlling the author as much as the author controls the language. I have had my own personal experiences with writing short fiction stories in a class last term. At first, I had a fairly clear plan of what my story was going to say and how I was going to do that, but sometime during the writing process, my story kind of ran away with me off on its own direction. I wasn’t getting very far trying to take control of the story again, so I ultimately let the story take over… as weird as that sounds. Once I was done, I read through the completed story and, to my surprise, it came across as something that I would like to have read much more than what I had actually been planning on writing.