At least, not according to the conventional wisdom on college admissions.
Share via Email Zadie Smith: Reading, like eating, caters to her ravenous but discriminating appetite: Brief Encounter is, for her, a chunk of Wensleydale cheese, inimitably English. Smith consumes books and films, by which I mean that she absorbs them, seizing on them with all her acute, avid senses.
It took her three hours to finish the volume and she expressed her critical judgment on it in a fit of grateful, ecstatic tears.
When her mother called her to dinner, she took the book to the table, not because she intended to discuss it but because it was in itself a meal, offering her communion with the nutritious blood and body of its author.
This is not the way critics are supposed to comport themselves. Reading for Smith is a mind-changing, life-giving, soul-saving affair and her criticism has a missionary urgency.
The intellectual revelations Smith purveys derive from and are ignited by her love for the books she has read. In her first novel, White Teeth, she called tradition "a sinister analgesic", as deeply embedded and degenerate as dental caries.
Forster made her the gift of his talent — she used Howards End as the model for her most recent novel On Beauty — and she is repaying his generosity, just as he settled his debts to his predecessors in those broadcast talks.
He refused, Smith notes, to call what he did "literary criticism, or even reviewing"; he was making "recommendations", like a "chatty librarian leaning over the counter". Smith has fewer misgivings about her own impassioned intelligence, but she is engaged in the same activity.
In a superb essay on Nabokov and Barthes, she explores the battling claims of writer versus reader, creator versus theorist, acknowledging that the dispute is being fought out inside her.
Hence her knowing use of a theological word when she says that in Middlemarch Eliot makes "literary atonement" for our isolation by filling her book "with more objects of attention than a novel can comfortably hold". That thronging abundance is the delight of White Teeth.
An author, in her view, is not a despotic Nabokovian god. In a wonderful aside about the indeterminacy of meaning in Shakespeare, she remarks that "the idea of a literary genius is a gift we give ourselves, a space so wide we can play in it forever".
This makes me want to throw a ball to her and bounce up and down in the hope of catching it when she retaliates.
A lecture delivered at the New York Public Library remembers how she changed her voice, advancing from the glottally stopped argot of Willesden to the posher, plummier vowels she imbibed at Cambridge — though her aim, as she admits, was to be polyvocal, to alternate between those idioms, and she praises Obama, "a genuinely many-voiced man", for possessing the same flexibility.
Her homage to the new president dates from soon after his election, when her "novelist credo" led her to hope that his command of different vocal registers would lead to "a flexibility in all things".
A year later, Obama is beginning to look merely slippery, flexing himself by inconclusively running on the spot. Elsewhere, Smith praises fluidity, another name for the same virtue. For a writer, fluency is "the ultimate good omen": Its opposite is fixity, a calcification that sets the mind in stone and prepares the body for rigor mortis.
This Smith detects in Wordsworth when he reneges on the revolutionary idealism of his youth, in the elderly bigotry of Kingsley Amis and in the defeatism of all those who, having reached the age of 50, stop reading contemporary fiction. These justified digs made me check on the state of my own stiffening joints and hardening arteries, my calcium-encrusted dogmas and sclerotic orthodoxies.These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Troll, or LOL with the selected comment.
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Click to read more about Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays by Zadie Smith. LibraryThing is a cataloging and social networking site for booklovers/5(24). Student rights essay scholarship essay medicine dna day essay corvette.
Zadie my poverty changing occasional mind essays on smith. stars – based on reviews Posted in Zadie smith changing my mind occasional essays on poverty. Leave a Comment Cancel Reply. Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays by Zadie Smith Reading for Smith is a mind-changing, life-giving, soul-saving affair and her criticism has a missionary urgency.
to change her mind and. Some of the essays in Changing My Mind made me want to pick up books I haven't touched since college. Others made me want to pick up a notebook and pen, or my copy of The Philadelphia Story, or the phone to call my parents and tell them I love them/5.
(7) isolated from the current of life about them. John and Davis were book-worms and John was bashful, with the tendency to self-consciousness which so often accompanies that trait.