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What makes pieces of literature worth analyzing over others?
In 6th hour, we had an interesting discussion about this topic but we didn't get too far. I hope to continue it on these forums.
Personally, I believe that pieces of literature that don't have a clear cut message make it worth analyzing. It's why in one of my previous topics, I brought up three different factors that may have pushed Abbot to write his rather outlandish book "Flatland". Any side can be equally justified in explaining Abbot's motives. However, it also brings up the question of if there isn't a clear cut message, how do we figure out what the author's underlying message is? Or, do we just say that every reader's interpretation of the piece is valid and call it a day?
We had a similar discussion in my class, I think that any book is worthy of being analyzed, for example we tried analyzing a children's book. I think the real question here is what you mentioned about is a clear cut message of books (if there is one), the meaning, or is it the readers interpretation? Personally, I think both of these answers are right to some degree. I think an author generally writes a book with his/her message, and is often times wanting to see how this message will be interpreted by their readers. I'm curious to know what you guys think about this.
@persephone, I completely agree with you, I think every book is worth an analyzation, but every book varies in how much analyzation is needed. I also think your idea about interpretation is spot on. I think the author writes the book trying to create the message that they see. But every reader thinks differently so there could be hundreds of different types of interpretations from the readers. I think most authors want this to happen because they like to see how readers interpreted their book in their own way.
@xwing37 I agree with both you and @persephone but I would like to add something. The amount analyzation and what people choose to analyze also stems from what the reader is looking for. A reader isnt going to go in depth analyzing a book that doesn't interest them. They are going to analyze a book that they have to or that they read and want to get more out of. From the authors point of view, they write pieces with one specific point of view in mind but purposely leave room for interpretation to see how people will take it and adapt the piece to fit their thinking.
@xwing37 - I would have to agree with you in saying that over-analyzation should occur with literature where the author's message is not as clear. While any reader can choose what to think and understand about the piece, I think it all comes down to the author's purpose. There is always a reason that an author is writing something and it is for this reason that they have a message that they would like to get across. There is only so much an author can do in order to ensure that their audience understands the message which then leaves it up to readers. I think the real question is: Where is the line drawn between the message of the writer and the potential interpretation of the reader?
@username27 I think your question of where the line is drawn between the message of the writer and the interpretation of the reader is a good one and also a hard one to answer. I also agree with you when you say that the author can do only so much to make sure the reader can understand the author's purpose. From what I've seen, I think when looking at pieces of writing there's always going to be people who view a piece extremely different from what you see. We often determine something as the message of a piece of literature based on the opinion of the masses. If most people understood a certain message from a book, we tend to label it as the main moral of the story or interpretation and everything else as possible interpretations. But nothing is to say that any interpretation is invalid or incorrect, maybe far fetched compared to the main idea the author has, but still an interpretation.
The author can only write so much in the amount of pages they are given. They are bound to leave some of the story out. If I were an author, I would want to add the most important concepts to my writing for the reader to take with them. This is why I believe any piece can be worth analyzing. To answer the prompt I'm not sure I would say it is more "worth" it to analyze a specific piece over another, but it may be more interesting to dissect works that are more convoluted and don't answer all your questions as a reader. Why didn't the author give us background information on the protagonist? Or why did the author choose to end the book at this point? Why was the work set up in this way? There are infinite questions about any piece of literature. The ones that give you the least questions answered when you finish the last word may be the ones that you remember the most because you want to answer those thoughts. The book might not have all of them, but if you take the time to analyze and infer, it may be worth it in the end.
@username27 I agree with your statement that there is always a purpose in the author writing a certain piece of work. Take Who's a Goblin? for example: This book was probably not to reveal the capitalistic gluttony of the narrator, and it was probably not about a boy who was almost abducted by aliens, but it still had a purpose, even if it doesn't have a super deep meaning. The purpose of this book, in my opinion, was most likely just to entertain little kids, while also providing a tool for them to learn to read and get better at reading and interacting with literature. I think one thing that needs to be considered when addressing your question about where the line is drawn between the message of the author and the interpretation of the reader is who the intended audience is. There is no clear-cut answer to your question, and no one correct answer. For children's books, it can be reasonably inferred that the purpose is to aid in the linguistic development of young children, and any message that may be found within the book is most likely what we would describe as "simple"- something we learn as young children, such as the importance of sharing. It's not a black and white subject; there is a lot of gray area. But I think it is important to remember what the author intends or who the author is writing for, while also drawing your own interpretation or purpose from the writing.
@persephone The only thing your post brings up is what would be a wrong interpretation then? Are there interpretations that the author does not see as valid? In Flatland, someone could interpret the piece as an argument for credulity as shown by Flatland society. Credulity is obviously something Abbott is totally against and spent a good chunk of his writing career to obliterate it. He wouldn't want you to think that credulity is good.
@nicole I am glad that you made a distinction between purpose and meaning in your reply. This difference is a crucial one when analyzing any piece. I agree with your interpretation of the purpose. Who's A Goblin? also teaches kids how to rhyme, introduces them to monsters, explains the five senses and may even show them what Halloween is like if they have never experienced it before! The meaning may just simply be that this book is a leisurely read for children and we can leave it at that. I agree with your closing sentence in that the author's intention and our own perspective of a piece are important to remember. I also believe that these should not be muddled because we can lose the purpose or the meaning of a book if we suffocate it with our own ideas.
@xwing37 I agree with you but I propose a question to you. Do you think an author would be offended or put off by a theme a reader generated from the story if it was not intended? Do you think there is always a theme left up to interpretation or do you think the author has a fixed mindset and a specific plan for each book? I believe it could be both but by using your imagination perhaps you add more substance to the novel, and give it deeper meaning that wasn't originally there.
@nicole I see your point and I was thinking, Hm is there a reason for a children's book to be handled the same way a best selling novel would? and I think to myself no, but why wouldn't there be? I see every book as a way for the author to give his or her perspective on a subject, there is always a common theme throughout a novel. In the case of a children's book like this one though, is there a common theme? well the child is aware of a goblin throughout the book and at the end his arch is complete when he realizes his own imperfections. I think you would argue that this book does what many popular best selling novels do on a shorter low-key scale. What do you think?
I think every interpretation of a piece of literature can be valid IF the reader is legitimately analyzing the piece. I think every piece is written with either an intended purpose or meaning by the author (or both!), but ultimately, the purpose of writing something is to get the reader to think. If I write and publish an essay about my opinion on a certain topic, my intended purpose is to persuade the reader to see this topic the way I see it- or at least similarly to the way I see it. And while some people may read it and walk away agreeing with the points I make in my writing, others may still strongly disagree with topics I discuss. I wouldn't consider the latter example to be a "failure" because I was unable to persuade my audience, as long as my writing was able to provoke meaningful thought in the reader. Meaningful thought is more important in literature than everyone viewing something the same way (i.e. the author's intended meaning) because when thinking occurs, so does progress, learning, and growing. This being said, the reader's interpretation needs to be a legitimate analysis of the writing in order for it to be considered valid. I'm sorry Mr. Chisnell, but I doubt your honest, thoughtful interpretation of Who's a Goblin? is that the narrator was about to be abducted by aliens, leading many of us to pay less attention to your theory and feel inclined to view it as less valid than other interpretations.
@mangoman I'm glad you asked. I guess I didn't really think about it as being similar to best selling novels in that way. I think it does function similarly to more complex and higher level books. However, I still think there is a distinction to be made between books such as Who's a Goblin? and books of a higher reading level. Who's a Goblin? points out the imperfections of the narrator in his lack of self control while eating Halloween candy. But best selling novels will point out more complex imperfections a protagonist may find within themselves. Because of this, deeper thinking and more digging are necessary in order to see the imperfections within the narrator, and deep thinking-about capitalistic gluttony, for example- often isn't really necessary for books such as Who's a Goblin?. So to answer your question simply: yes, children's books and best selling books can serve the same or similar functions. But the message will be more explicitly laid out in children's books and the reader often doesn't need to look past the obvious to understand the moral.
Personally for me it is the length of the literary work. If I am given something that is only a single page or even two pages long I tend not to annotate it and just read it. My reasoning on that is since the piece is so short I will be able to go back and find exactly what I need, but that is only because of its length. It really just makes the more important points easy to find.
Though when it comes to a piece that is much longer and has a lot more content I think that it is 100% necessary to annotate. Especially if there is going to be a group discussion on it, you would want to make sure you have all of your points put in order to help support what you might think the theme is and what the authors motive might be.
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