Listening as Reading

Being Read To

This drawing is in response to Alberto Manguel’s A History of Reading, specifically his chapter titled “Being Read To,” a brief history of public reading with particular attention to the Cuban lectors reading to workers in cigar factories.   The chapter closes with this fine analysis:

“Whether in the Benedictine monasteries or the winter rooms of the late Middle Ages, in the inns and kitchens of the Renaissance or the drawing-rooms and cigar factories of the nineteenth century–even today, listening to an actor read a book on tape as we drive down the highway–the ceremony of being read to no doubt deprives the listener of some of the freedom inherent in the act of reading–choosing a tone, stressing a point, returning to a best-loved passage–but it also give the versatile text a respectable identity, a sense of unity in time and an existence in space that it seldom has in the capricious hands of a solitary reader” (123).