This blog is an homage to romance novels and formalist critique, but it’s also something I hope people will read. Which means that I’m not going to stick to the form of the explication de texte TOO closely. It will provide inspiration and a point of departure, but I’ll also loosen things up a bit. There might even be the occasional GIF, with apologies to my former French lit professors.
One thing an explication de texte is not? A discussion of an author’s intention. Close reading is not about figuring out what an author “really meant” or what they were “trying to do.” It’s all about how the text works on the reader. Explication de texte is one way to get at what a novel has meant to me, and how it worked on me personally, and open up the possibility of the other, different ways it might work on other readers.
About book selection:
This one’s pretty simple: I’m going to pick passages from books I love, that I think are particularly well-written.
The guidelines of Fair Use (Fair Dealing in the UK) allow for the reproduction of a small amount of copyrighted material with the purpose of criticism and scholarship, both of which describe the aims of this blog. That being said, I also want to remain respectful of authors and their work. With that in mind, the passages I use will generally be quite short (under 400 words): any longer passages will either be taken from available pages on Google Book previews, or after requesting permission from the copyright holder. I will generally avoid passages that give away major plot points, and will carefully flag potential spoilers.
As a kid, I used to read so much it got me in trouble: my parents had to stop by my room every 15 minutes after bedtime to feel the lightbulb in my bedside lamp, making sure I hadn’t been sneaking it back on to read. I lost this feeling about books for a long time (thanks, grad school), and rediscovered it when someone recommended a Tessa Dare novel. I haven’t looked back since. I like lots of angst, difficult heroines, and think a good grovel speech is worth a thousand grand gestures.