While reading Herman Wouk's classic tale, "The Winds of War", I came across several passages describing a young man's vision of Germany. Although the author supplies me with his ideas, his desire and his provocative details on how this young Major views Germany at the time of the Second World War, I still find myself wondering and questioning aspects of the written text before me. Apart from being drawn from my subconscious state to a more subtle and unconscious condition, several questions begin to form within my mind. What does Germany look like? What were the political conditions? What did the SS Stormtroopers look like? What did a concentration camp reveal? By triggering these sensors and somewhat emotional queries within me, the author has already caused a clockwork cycle to commence which will enlighten my reading and eventually create enjoyment and furthering interests with his novel. This is the focus of Virginia Woolf's composition.
After reading her essay, I came to understand her theory that it is best not to accept advice from another person on how to read literature, since the best advice is no advice at all. Woolf expresses the thought that when one begins to read literature, he/she begins to enter different stages of interpretation that will ultimately improve his/her pleasure and satisfaction. It was obvious to me that I had in fact indulged in forms of interpretation when reading literature, but it had never dawned on me that I was performing this act until reading Woolf's essay.
Whenever I am subjected to something in literature that is not fully understandable to me, I begin to engage in several different forms of interpretation. The first stage would reflect much of the philosophy expressed in the essay 'Against Interpretation' whereas I, the reader, would observe the content and then translate the form. Literature induces the reader to use his/her experience and memories to comprehend what a person, place or thing is and then interpret it. The second stage would involve translating, where one begins a comparison sequence by linking their past knowledge with the subject introduced by the author. It is this comparison which creates a variation of ways in which every person reads or understands literature.
Therefore, each individual is different in respects to forms of interpretation based on their past experiences and knowledge. It can be true to say that every man is only made up of his memories. I would therefore agree with Woolf's analogy that there is no greater gift than that of literature. I often find myself so deeply absorbed in a novel that the world constructed within my mind, through my unique form of interpretation, is so realistic that I cannot stop reading the book. My entire being is enthralled by the work of this particular author who, through his/her style and form of writing, has managed to throw me into an abyss of subconscious interpretation.
Woolf stresses the importance of how each individual creates different visions and reactions to literature that lead to a conclusion brought upon their own methods of interpretation. Although my own method of reading has not been altered after reading her essay, it allows me to put the whole concept of literature into perspective and how it affects me in life. I have begun contemplating the different characteristics involved in creative writing and how every person who reads literature will analyze it.