The Art of Reading Slowly

This is a blog about language and literature. I’ve always been fascinated by words, by how words form sentences, and how sentences form poems and stories. The technical term for this fascination is philology—the love of language. Friedrich Nietzsche defined philology as the art of reading slowly—that’s where I got the title for this blog. In the section titled What is Philology? I discuss what I take to be the four major components of philology: historical linguistics, the editing of texts, the interpretation of language in context, and the interpretation of literature with special attention to language. I’m interested in all of these, and I will post blogs on all of them, but my own work lies primarily in the third and fourth areas. 

I created this site as an invitation for anyone who has a passion for literature—readers and writers of all sorts. I would like to think of this blog as one part of a conversation among people who share an interest in the way language works and the way it turns into art. Please feel free to enter the conversation by dropping me a note with your reactions to my posts or with your own thoughts. I welcome your comments and suggestions.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Karen L. Hogan, who did all the hard work of designing and mounting this blog. Without her help it wouldn’t have happened.

About Matthew Clark

My Most Recent Blog Posts

More on Mimesis in Willa Cather’s “The Song of the Lark”

Lately I’ve been writing posts about narrative world building, the mimetic aspect of narrative, with particular attention to descriptions of moveable objects, including clothing. I’ve been concentrating on novels by three writers: Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Willa Cather’s The Song of the Lark, and Doris Lessing’s The Good Neighbour. There’s lots more to say…

Lessing, Austen, Cather

In my previous post I looked at some passages from Doris Lessing’s novel The Good Neighbour to show something about her techniques of world building, mimesis. There are many passages in the novel that show how interested she is in enumerating and describing things; these enumerations and descriptions contribute to the meaning of the novel,…

More on Lessing

In this post I will continue my discussion of mimesis—world building—in Doris Lessing’s novel The Good Neighbour. There is an overabundance of great mimetic material in this novel; I will hit some of the high points. In my previous post I discussed the beginning of The Good Neighbour—first, the initial summary of antecedent action (in…

Mimesis in Doris Lessing’s “The Good Neighbour”

In my previous post I compared some passages of mimesis—world building—in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Willa Cather’s The Song of the Lark. I was arguing that literary realism is not a simple category; literary language is not a transparent window through which we just look at what’s out there, even in realistic styles.…

Mimesis in Austen and Cather

Every novel presents a world to the reader. The building of a narrative world doesn’t have to happen all at once, though it’s common for at least some world building to occur at the beginning. If the world of a narrative is close to something we can, for the moment, call normal reality, then the…

Representation, Big and Small

It’s been a while since I posted anything about my current research project in narrative analysis. The approach I’m using looks at a narrative from three aspects: the synthetic, the mimetic, and the thematic. The synthetic aspect asks “How is this narrative composed?”; the mimetic aspect asks “What does it represent?”; and the thematic aspect…