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Walter Benjamin – The Storyteller



There aren’t that many Benjamin texts out there on the interweb. This one

The Storyteller : Reflections on the work of Nicolai Leskov

came my way via Lorcan Dempsey’s weblog , which in its turn arrived through looking for more on the quote in my previous post

Pro captu lectoris habent sua fata libelli.

There is a tantalising Italian wiki on the saying {1} and a link to an English Wiki:Terentianus on its author, which doesn’t give a lot away.

When the quote wiki is automatically translated it comes out as:

Pro captu lectoris habent sua fata libelli
Depending on the apprehension of the reader, the book their fates

which is the sort of garbled translation I am fond of because it reminds me of the sort of English in the instruction sheet in flat-pack furniture.

For a second I misread it as some sort of fear of the reader……perhaps it could just as well be the other meaning or both at the same time: as in ‘I haven’t a clue what this book is about.’ [Chucks it in the waste paper basket]; or, ‘This book scares the hell out of me.’ [chucks it in the waste paper basket]

Would be grateful for a quick lesson on where to put the full stop in a quote: is it .’ or ‘.



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October 18, 2007 Posted by | Literature, Reader, reading, Terentianus, The fate of books, Walter Benjamin | , , , , | Leave a comment

The fate of books depends on the discernment of the reader


Pro captu lectoris habent sua fata libelli.
The fate of books depends on the discernment of the reader.

– Terentius Maurus, De Literis, Syllabis et Metris (1286)

 

 

The task had been to find something to explain simply Barthes’s, “To Write: An Intransitive Verb?”. There was nothing I could understand much of. The surf came to a natural end with an essay, A Blueprint for Melville’s “Bartleby”, by Steven C. Scheer – not what I was looking for but clearly written, not full of jargon, interesting and informative: a serependipity – arrived on my screen because he cites Barthes’s essay at the bottom of the page, which in turn led me to his home site and two nice long essays, The Art of Reading, from which the quote above came, and A Writer’s Notes on Writing.

He has a blogspot, Words Matter, which he has written occasionally to, but there are several very interesting posts, including one on Hellen Keller.




October 15, 2007 Posted by | Barthes, Book, Literature, non-fiction, readability, Reader, reading, The fate of books, Writing | , , , | Leave a comment