Read Literature Like A Professor Analysis

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As the nature of this letter implies, I have finished Thomas Foster’s book, How to Read Literature like a Professor. It was intriguing and helped me to see things that otherwise I wouldn’t have noticed. Even some of the topics that seemed common sense were given greater significance after he explained them. For example, the chapter on the seasons the concepts/meanings are commonly known yet seeing how they fall into play in an actual story is fascinating. I never considered that the seasons could be incorporated in such complex ways short of plot, theme, mood, and setting. Yet in Foster’s example, he shows that the characters can also have the same dimensions through Henry James’s Daisy Miller. Just by the characters’ names themselves, they…show more content…
At first I wanted to argue with his ‘one story’ ideology, Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead got inside my head I suppose. However as he continued to engage with it, providing examples of how past works foster and provide a way to increase the depth of a story, I started to appreciate it more. It wasn’t that he was saying good literature only comes from traces of older works, and then adding their own traces to be applied similarly to new works. What he meant was that literature is emotions and experiences that tell what it means to be human, and as people evolve over time so does literature. In both there is a history to keep drawing from that impacts what happens from there on out. It now has more substance after he explained how he sees it. I also found it interesting how much interpretations can vary. Obviously a person’s beliefs, opinions, experiences, and just about everything else can influence how they understand what they read, but seeing it in action is different. In the test case Foster sees Persephone, the history major focuses on the conflicts between the character and the social implications of the garden party, then the English major perceives that it’s a coming of age story where the character realizes that others hardships are not her own thus insignificant to her. Another thing that got captured my interest was the meaning of character’s physical appearance and what ailments affect them and by what the author means by it. I never thought about how physical deformities show that character’s distortion of morals. It stood out more prominently considering the other book I was reading on the side, which I will mention more on later. The way authors kill off their characters was also interesting: heart issue equals emotional turmoil, and the difference between going out with a bang or a whimper. It gives the characters’ deaths more significance and it can add layers to
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