In favor of talented readers

DublinesqueHe made associations between ideas, and always had a remarkable tendency to read his own life like a book. Publishing, and consequently having to read so many manuscripts, contributed still more to this tendency of his to imagine that metaphorical associations and an often highly enigmatic code lay concealed behind any scene in his daily life.

He considers himself as much a reader as he is a publisher. It was basically his health that forced him to retire from publishing, but it seems to him it was also partly the golden calf of the gothic novel, which created the stupid myth of the passive reader. He dreams of the day when the spell of the best-seller will be broken, making way for the reappearance of the talented reader, and for the terms of the moral contract between author and audience to be reconsidered. He dreams of the day when literary publishers can breathe again, those who live for an active reader, for a reader open enough to buy a book and allow a conscience radically different from his own to appear in his mind. He believes that if talent is demanded of a literary publisher or a writer, it must also be demanded of a reader. Because we mustn’t deceive ourselves: on the journey of reading we often travel through difficult terrains that demand a capacity for intelligent emotion, a desire to understand the other, and to approach a language distinct from the one of our daily tyrannies. …The same skills needed for writing are needed for reading. Writers fail readers, but it also happens the other way around and readers fail writers when all they ask of them is confirmation that the world is how they see it. . . .

Enrique Vila-Matas. Dublinesque

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