Borges on Criticism & Compulsory Happiness

“I have tried to disregard as much as possible the history of literature. When my students asked me for a bibilography, I told them, ‘A bibliography is unimportant–after all, Shakespeare knew nothing of Shakespearean criticism. Why not study the text directly? If you like the book, fine; if you don’t, don’t read it. The idea of compulsory reading is absured; it’s only worthwhile to speak of compulsory happiness…if a story doesn’t make you want to know what happened next, then the the author has not written for you. Put it aside. Literature is rich enough to offer you some other author worthy of your attention–or one today unworthy of your attention whom you will read tomorrow.”

From “Poetry,” a lecture in Seven Nights

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