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Dreaming by the Book 62379th Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0691070766
ISBN-10: 0691070768
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Co-Winner of the 2000 Truman Capote Award, Literary Criticism

"A startling inquiry . . . a truly revealing phenomenology of imagination. . . . Dreaming by the Book will affect how one reads fiction and poetry as few critical works have done before."--Kenneth Baker, art critic, San Francisco Chronicle

"[Scarry] is extremely ambitious, seeking nothing less than a theory of literary cognition. . . . Her interest, which is really in aesthetic success, makes her an original."--James Wood, New Republic

"Her approach often recalls that of . . . Descartes and Hume as she attempts to solve the riddle of how the mind works. Scarry is an original, interdisciplinary thinker. She writes like someone enraptured by both the natural world . . . and by language."--Publishers Weekly

"[Scarry] has written an appendix to Aristotle, perhaps best entitled De Imaginatione, though I wonder whether it fits better to the end of his De Anima, 'On the Soul,' or his Poetics."--Virginia Quarterly Review

From the Back Cover

"Part reverie, part rhapsody, and lucid analysis throughout."--Robert Fagles, translator of Homer's Iliad

"I finished Dreaming by the Book feeling that fundamental aspects of the nature of consciousness had been peeled open and exposed to view."--Stephen M. Kosslyn, author of Image and Brain

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; 62379th edition (May 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691070768
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691070766
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,070,834 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Verified Purchase
At the outset, I must say how shocked I am to be the second person reviewing this book. Considering how influential this book has been on my own way of reading, not to mention my mode of living, I am sorry to feel so alone in loving it.

Elaine Scarry's "Dreaming by the Book" is an expansion of an earlier essay she published in Representations, "On Vivacity." The thrust of both is to discover what it is about novels, and, to a lesser extant other forms of writing and artistic representation, that so far surpasses our independent minds in their ability to present us with imagined images.

Though Scarry does ground her analysis on a good amount of empirical research, usually from cognitive psychology, many of her claims stand more on their ability to persuade than their scientific backing. That is not to say Scarry presents us with a work of analytic philosophy. On the contrary, Scarry's book itself reads like a novel. Her ability to turn Aristotle's antiquated physics into vibrant poetry awakens within the reader a desire to similarly animate Scarry's words an grant them voice in the real world - all to frequently I found myself reading parts aloud to others.

Scarry is, certainly, a lyrical writer who begs to be read aloud. But she returns the favor to those she scrutinizes. Locke, Rousseau and even Kant sound like poets when they are revoiced by Scarry.

Perhaps some might be put off by Scarry's overwhelming style, some by her seemingly unconvincing, though abundant, evidence - there isn't, after all, any rigid logic here. Yet the most important claims that Scarry makes seem to require of us very little - attention and appreciation. I, for one, would gladly give anything Scarry wrote both on virtue of this work alone.
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I had to read this book for a literature class at my local college. Very interesting read. It certainly expands your perspective on things, however it's not something I would say has a lot of clarity to it. There are sections of the book that make nearly no sense to me or my professor, but the ones that do are worth the read.
I wouldn't purchase the book. If you can find a library copy, that would probably be a better option. Still, an interesting read nonetheless.
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It's a wonderful book on a fascinating topic - how is it that the images we form in our minds as we read seem richer and more complete than what we can imagine on our own? What are some of the ways writers create this sense of tangible presence?
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I like this book, because has a lot of thought into design aspect. You need to read it.
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