This summer, before I holed up in Evergreen to read everything I wanted to before starting this French Canon Reading List, I spent two days in Corrèze at Daniel Martin's summer home. He reads for a living - how? - he has to - no romanticism - it is, in the end, a job. Reading books you hate, boring books, revolting books, unoriginal books, books that are okay, that you forget about, that you have to force yourself to finish. It wouldn't be a profession if it were always only about loving what you read.
So I started thinking about the Reading List ahead of me like I was gearing up for war. Hack through the bad books, take the good ones as prisoners for future reference and research. Acquire the bases of the academic profession as a (mostly) unenjoyable mission. Leave passion aside, think about work. In a bad way.
Before I went under, while I was still up in the mountains in Colorado, I read everything I wanted to. Or, I read only what I wanted to. And quickly. Not pausing with an academic eye, but trying to rediscover a childlike pleasure to reading (more on that later).
I'm a month into the Reading List. There are so many questions. How to read canonical literature? What is the use of canonical literature? I am resistant to the idea of a literary canon, and almost daily have to remind myself that reading these works is necessary - if not only as an academic requirement for my PhD - then also as a source for deepening future research.
To come: Jacques Derrida, and the Reading List posted somewhere on this blog.