Marginalia: The Reading Experience

Its title is straightforward and its site design strictly no-frills, but Daniel Green’s The Reading Experience is, bar none, the best literary discussion site on the Web. Ostensibly focused on “contemporary literature and criticism,” it actually ranges over the whole of literary history, as any good discussion of books ultimately does. We wanted to single out TRE for praise because, while any number of book blogs have become popular in the past 10 years—many deservedly so—Green’s site seems to us the most erudite, the most passionate, and the most consistently engaging. Even its kooky, ranting commenters (every site has a few) are impossibly high-toned:

“What’s with the ‘Thus’ etc [sic]? You need to understand that using Latinate words and formulations from the last century does not make you the next Ruskin.

Your general thrust is that the choice is either convention or this, another convention, the psuedo-man [sic] of knowledge, armed with a fistful of thuses, railing against the gods of commerce that rule the format and depth of typical book reviews.”

Latinate words and archaic formulations don’t make you the next Ruskin? Nuts, we may have to rethink our whole purpose in life.

Green’s own response to this screed (of which we have excerpted only a fraction) was measured and eloquent, as is all his prose. And it must be said that the majority of commenters on his site know more about literature than most book bloggers and many professional book reviewers. Thus, if you are a serious reader yourself, you will want to start immersing yourself in The Reading Experience immediately.

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