Zadie Smith's Dead Man Talking

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Zadie Smith’s extraordinary, shrewd, and insightful commentary in Dead Man Talking begins with a quote by Dr. Samuel Johnson. He says, “A man ought to read just as inclination leads him; for what he reads as a task will do him little good.” I – like Zadie Smith- began to contemplate and review my own history with literature (required texts and personal readings). This quote and Smith’s commentary allow me to recognize that reading, like life, is intricately tied to one’s attitude. I vehemently disagree with Dr. Johnson. Required reading (as a “task”) and non-required reading are not mutually exclusive terms. Both are necessary to inform, educate, and enhance an individual’s attitude and knowledge in life. However, these attitudes are mutable.…show more content…
I wanted to learn from older people, younger people, teachers, and parents. I have an insatiably curiosity that has been key in educating myself through eclectic means. When I was ten or eleven I read history books on World War Two, listened to Talking Heads and Beethoven, and watched Duck Soup starring the Marx Brothers. When I was older I read The Hours and Cry, the Beloved Country. Perhaps I prematurely applied myself to Smith’s finding that, “Experiment is essential”(2). However, I was also exposed to a wide array of required, influential classic literature in school. Some of these readings were also “sanctified by my elders and betters”(1). Some of these novels were: Crime and Punishment, Fahrenheit 451, To Kill A Mockingbird, and A Tale of Two Cities. My attitudes toward both the required and personal investment of readings or related activities varied. When starting to read Crime and Punishment, I strongly felt that the length of the novel would detract from the impact of the novel. Russian novels are famous for length, depressing characters, and complicated plots. Yet, as I read, I felt that the length added depth to the novel. I disliked reading A Tale of Two Cities because of the archaic language. But, I appreciated the theme and the relationships apparent in the

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