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The Performance of Reading: An Essay in the Philosophy of Literature

ISBN: 978-1-4051-8823-4
176 pages
November 2008, Wiley-Blackwell
The Performance of Reading: An Essay in the Philosophy of Literature (1405188235) cover image
The Performance of Reading argues that there are distinct analogies between "silent" reading and artistic performance, and so fashions the new role of the reader as performer.



  • An original and insightful exploration of the act of reading by the leading scholar in the field.
  • Discusses the history of reading and the transitions from reading aloud to reading silently, and the changing role of literature as communal, active experience to a more private endeavor.
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Preface.

The Performance of Reading.

Notes.

Bibliography.

Index.

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Peter Kivy is Board of Governors Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers University and a past president of the American Society for Aesthetics. He is author of The Possessor and the Possessed: Handel, Mozart, Beethoven, and the Idea of Musical Genius (2001), New Essays on Musical Understanding (2001), and Introduction to a Philosophy of Music (2002), and editor of The Blackwell Guide to Aesthetics (Blackwell, 2004).
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  • An original and insightful exploration of the act of reading by the leading scholar in the field
  • Discusses the history of reading and the transitions from reading aloud to reading silently, and the changing role of literature as communal, active experience to a more private endeavor
  • Explores provocative analogies between "silent" reading of literature and artistic performance
  • Suggests a deeper understanding an appreciation of literary works through fashioning the reader as performer
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"[T]his book is a mine of intriguing speculations, ingenious argument, and stimulating suggestions, made even more attractive by Kivy's engaging style." (David Davies, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism (vol. 66, issue 1)

"Kivy's is a highly welcome book … .One hopes that Kivy's highly original, thought-provoking book betokens a new wave of scholarship." (Eighteenth-Century Studies)

"As always, [Kivy's] style is clear, lively, and engaging. In The Performance of Reading he offers a bold new interpretation of what the reading of literature is. The thesis of this monograph is simple: reading literature is a performance--more precisely, a silent one. 'I read, therefore I perform' ... Readers have an 'experience' not different from the one the ancients had when Homer was performed. It is still as if a voice in one's head is telling a story. Overall, this work is a wonderful addition to the understanding of literature." (Choice)

"Peter Kivy is probably the most respected aesthetician currently active in the English-speaking philosophical world, and this book is a wholly typical Kivy product, informed by his deep knowledge of music, literature and the history of philosophy from Plato through the 18th century to the present day, and written with his characteristic clarity, charm, and dry wit."
Gary Iseminger, Carleton College

"In his new book, Peter Kivy has opened a new domain of philosophical discussion. The Performance of Reading is sure to have the leading journals of aesthetics buzzing with debate, and will also attract and repay the close attention of literary theorists."
Noël Carroll, Temple University

"Kivy develops his striking thesis with characteristic elegance, flair and ingenuity. The Performance of Reading is original, provocative, and bound to generate debate."
Alex Neill, University of Southampton

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