Friday, January 13, 2012


 TS When I surprisingly discovered yesterday that the word “analyze” derives from the Greek word for “loosen up”, I suddenly pictured my youthful students of literature disentangling themselves from their worries about their academic abilities, and simply unwinding a little among the pages of the books we read for class. Perhaps I’ve had the wrong notion about literary analysis – that it’s a matter of major concentration and intensity. Perhaps the best way for my students and me to appreciate the artistry of a novel or poem is to actually ease up among the sentences, perhaps “put our feet up” among the words and phrases and just see what happens. If we really want to analyze some pages in a story, possibly we should make ourselves less uptight about the process and sort of sprawl among the sentences -- sort of lounge around and idly look for the lights of meaning the author might have placed here and there. Perhaps, going back to the Greek, we should analyze literature by “loosening up” the words on a page -- figuratively shaking them, turning them all upside down, or dropping them out of a third-story window and watching what happens. I get the feeling from the Greek origins that analysis has more to do with amusement than meticulousness, more to do with games than grim obligations.

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