Saturday, April 14, 2012

DISCUSSION: Do you read Introductions?

Most often the republication of books considered classics are preceded by introductions. In the Vintage Classics (2007) edition of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, there were two introductions: the first was by Margaret Atwood written in 2007 and the other by David Bradshaw in 1993. These introductions were then followed by the literary life of the author again by David Bradshaw and then finally there was a foreword by author written in 1946. All these together comprises 50 pages and also gave insights to what the story is about and more.

The question is do you read these introductions and forewords as part of the novel? Do you read it at all? Do you read it before? Or do you read it after? What is your position on this? I do read all before the book.

18 comments:

  1. I must confess that in most cases I do ignore introductions. I think mostly because I'm always eager to get into a story when I pick it up.

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    1. I understand you Geosi. It can be frustrating and tiring knowing that the story lies beyond it.

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  2. I rarely read introductions before reading a book. Sometimes I read them after, though.

    I want my first experience of the book to be the author's words.

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    1. I think so and I'll change my style. I will read introductions after. It makes a lot of sense: once you've got the story, you can appreciate others perspective as set out in the introduction.

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  3. Sometimes, but 50 pages! No, thank you!

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  4. I'd say I read them about 50% of the time. It often depends on who wrote them and how quickly they get interesting. Sometimes I read them after I finish the book.

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    1. I guess reading it after is becoming the consensus. Regarding who wrote it, it would be difficult for me to say since it's sometimes difficult to know who's an expert in a given writer/subject.

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  5. If I already know the story (maybe I've watched a film), I might read the introduction first, but usually I avoid them studiously; I always plan to go back and read them afterwards -- and I mostly do, and wholly appreciate the angle on the work that's offered therein -- but if I only half-heartedly enjoyed the work, I might only half-heartedly read the introduction as well.

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    1. The 'fear' is that reading the introduction afterwards would be tedious. Yet, the argument or reason to do read it afterwards is compelling. After understanding the story one can easily understand the story from another's perspective and be able to relate to the characters and agree or disagree with the discussion.

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  6. Sometimes I do, if I know the book well, or if I have questions about it before I start. i try to avoid reading them though because I don't want to get too many spoilers! oftentimes an introduction can help me understand a difficult book though.

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    1. I also find that sometimes I am unable to relate properly with the introduction - when I've not read the story.

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  7. More often than not, I read the intro pages, but I think I may skip this 50 pages or at best read half of it.

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    1. And I read this 50 pages. It was interesting though.

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  8. I absolutely love introductions! They often contain spoilers though, so if I'm not already aware of the general story from other sources I usually read it afterwards.

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    1. The funny thing is I enter most stories blind, especially if there are no introductions.

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  9. I might read the introduction before reading the book. It depends on the book. I like intros in most cases. But sometimes they overreach and sound a tad pretentious. But if it is well-written, it can provide insights into the book that I overlooked.

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    1. When they become very academic, they become very frustrating.

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