Detained; or, Is There Such a Thing as Cubist Reading?

I have to get back to my biography of Tennessee Williams. I haven’t been in it since before we left for Philadelphia. What’s it been now–almost a month of not reading it. I have read in the meantime other things, Robert Lowell, Frank O’Hara, Anne Sexton, Stefan Zweig, Lawrence Sterne–a few chapters of Tristam Shandy? Rereading. I recall what I used to say in my Freshman Composition classes, to my students: All good writing is rewriting; all good reading is rereading. I was convinced long before that that I had acquired the skill of multiple readings in a single reading; that is, each time I read a text, it had been as if I had read the text several times. Cubist reading? Is that possible. I was convinced. Steadily, slowly, fiocused on different aspects of analysis . . . by the time I finished one read it was as if I had read what I was reading several times. And each subsequent read was like the first, multiple.

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