Kate Winslet won an Oscar for The Reader, but Richard Yates fans everywhere thought to themselves, I’m just going to pretend she won this for her portrayal of an American housewife instead of an illiterate fräulein.
So, the movie wasn’t exactly fantastic. You, and every other literature major undergrad, film critic over the age of 45 (new yorker review cough cough) were willing to forgive the movie for it’s, shall we say, defects. Obviously you could look past the “limitations of the medium” because Yates finally got the recognition he deserved! This is obviously a year of triumph for underdogs. Obama is president, Kate Winslet WINS an Oscar, Richard Yates’ magnum opus is turned into a film and nominated for three Academy Awards. Woo, hoo!
This recognition is not without its drawbacks, and clearly you wouldn’t be a Yates fan if you didn’t get all hot and bothered by life’s bittersweet moments. In the aftermath of a booze soaked celebration you awake a little less certain about the cultural capital of your precious dog-eared copy of Revolutionary Road.
It’s not long before your shadowy unease grows to proportions of nightmarish beast. Shortly after you mom visits you for the weekend and steals your beloved 12th edition paperback, the horrific truth dawns on you; the cult classic value of your blue chip investment has plummeted, you are now culturally bankrupt.
On this site, in a recent post which garnered 200+ comments, someone quoted Ezra Pound; the source, Pound’s instructional text A B C of Reading.
In the book’s introduction Pound writes, “For those who might like to learn. The book is not addressed to those who have arrived at full knowledge of the subject without knowing the facts.” He goes on to describe A B C as a text-book ” ‘for pleasure as well as profit’ by those no longer in school; by those who have not been to school; or by those who in their college days suffered those things which most of my own generation suffered.”
Obviously Pound had HTML’s audience in mind.
After the jump is a passage that hasn’t aged a day since its 1934 publication.