How to Read a Book/ Part Two/ Chapter 9/ Determining an Authors Message
We have settled in the previous chapter the value and significance of "coming to terms" with an Author. Now, and only after being capable of doing what is being asked in chapter 8, and all chapters before that, can we determine the authors "message". First off language of course is fundamental. Meaning, that to grasp an authors message we must first grasp the authors language (whether it be french, russian, english, spanish, or Klingon), a language we presume us, as readers, have mastered (or at least understood). The Trivium, is an spectacular book that speaks in depth about the basis of language, one we were also asked to read
"Wonder is the beginning of wisdom in learning from books as well as from nature. If you never ask yourself any questions about the meaning of the passage, you cannot expect the book to give you insight you do not already possess."
- How to Read a Book, by Mortimer Adler. -
When reading a book, the Author is incredibly important. I do not mean his name, nor hist past or background, much less his physical state. What we want to know about the author is the book he wrote, and we wish to know this in its entirety. If one manages to come to terms with an author, a thing which very few manage to do, one can inquire into the message of the author which is much more general, but never exclusive of the words. To understand the whole we must understand its parts, and neither is mutually exclusive. There must be therefore, in a good book (and let us assume we are reading a good book), a structure. In this structure the author has captivated his or her meaning, and left it there for us to find whether be it explicit or implicit. I have learned that to fully grasp the meaning of the book, the meaning which is most important, one must follow the course of the reading as ourselves being a part of it, living it and breathing it, knowing it until we understand it. Further on, on later chapters, we dive into more specific areas of literature, such as poetry, play, history, fiction etc.