How to Read Literature Like a Professor

“The real reason for a quest is always self-knowledge.” pg. 3

“Whenever people eat or drink, it’s communion.” pg. 8

“Ghosts and vampires are never only about ghosts and vampires.” pg. 17

“There’s no such thing as a wholly original work of literature.” pg. 29

“It’s never just rain.” pg. 75

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How to Read Literature Like a Professor

“Here’s the problem with symbols: people expect them to mean something. Not just any something, something in particular. Exactly. Maximum. You know what? It doesn’t work like that… so some symbols do have a relatively limited range of meanings, but in general a symbol can’t be reduced to standing for only one thing.”

from How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster pgs. 97-98

How to Read Literature Like a Professor

“Most professional students of literature learn to take in the foreground detail while seeing the detail reveals. Like the symbolic imagination, this is a function of being able to distance oneself from the story, to look beyond the purely affective level of plot, drama, characters. Experience has proved to them that life and books fall into similar patterns. Nor is this skill exclusive to English professors. Good mechanics, the kind that used to fix cars before computerized diagnostics, use pattern recognition to diagnose engine troubles: if this and this are happening, then check that.  Literature is full of patterns, and your reading experience will be much more rewarding when you can step back from the work, even while you’re reading it, and look for those patterns.”

from How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster pg. xvi